Business Irish

Saturday 24 February 2018

Noel Smyth now advising property funds on REIT floats

Noel Smyth Photo: Tom Burke
Noel Smyth Photo: Tom Burke

Roisin Burke

SOLICITOR and property developer Noel Smyth is assisting several parties seeking to set up big listed property funds.

"I can tell you that in the last six months I have advised four or five people in relation to setting up REITs (real estate investment trusts) and QIFs (qualifying investor funds -- another type of property investment trust).

"We are involved as advisers with various people in putting submissions on their behalf," said Smyth, who has an established legal practice.

"As far as I can see, every large investor in town is considering setting up funds of this kind. I understand the Central Bank is considering another version of trust that provides (legal and regulatory) comfort for investors in property here.

"It is expensive to put together and takes a lot of time," Smyth said of the process of setting the REIT model that has already seen two players, Hibernia and Green, set up since legislation was introduced to allow such investment funds.

"There is a lot of Central Bank legislation and it is a long road and a mammoth task in terms of budget."

Smyth said he was not advising Kennedy Wilson, the giant Californian investor which has been widely expected to work its considerable Irish property acquisitions into a listed fund of some kind.

Smith's Fitzwilliam Finance Partners led the Weston-backed acquisition of Arnotts' €140m debt to Ulster Bank late last year.

Negotiations with fellow Arnotts' debt buyer Apollo are expected to be put in train soon. He said it was too soon to comment at present.

Once one of the country's richest men, Smyth has been an adviser and consultant to many high-profile developers and business people over the years. His €200m former British commercial property portfolio went into receivership in 2012 and was last year broken up and sold on.

His Alburn Developments, whose loans are in Nama, holds a controlling stake in The Square in Tallaght.

Smyth was Ben Dunne's solicitor and his sworn testimony during the Moriarty Tribunal played a part in Charlie Haughey's admission that he had received IR£1.2m from Dunne. Smyth had taken meticulous records of calls and meetings, it emerged.

He also represented Ansbacher Bank when Banco Ambrosiano sought $40m that it claimed had been lodged in Dublin by banker Roberto Calvi, who was later found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London.

Irish Independent

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