Sunday 20 January 2019

Property tycoon Carroll amasses €1bn war chest

Developer Liam Carroll has
major stakes in both ICG and
Greencore. Both have land banks
Developer Liam Carroll has major stakes in both ICG and Greencore. Both have land banks

Tom McEnaney

Liam Carroll, the reclusive property developer and serial investor, has taken up to €1bn in cash from his property empire by securitising his future rental income.

It is understood that Carroll used two banks, one of which is Halifax Bank of Scotland, to generate the cash.

Although information on Mr Carroll's business is notoriously tightly held, word has been filtering into the market for some time that Mr Carroll has amassed a sizeable war chest and may be set to pounce on a listed company.

However, it is understood to be more likely that securitisation is part of a wider succession plan by the billionaire investor.

The two most likely targets for any move by Mr Carroll would be ferry company ICG and food company Greencore. In both cases, Mr Carroll owns almost 30pc of the stock already, the level at which a takeover becomes mandatory.

However, it is understood that no move on either company is imminent.

Mr Carroll has also been linked to stakebuilding in the housebuilder McInerney and Aer Lingus, although some suggest that reports of his interest in the airline have been overdone. In recent days, he has also been linked to stakebuilding in insurer FBD.

Mr Carroll has proven himself to be a canny and patient investor. In the current market, with cash in very short supply, having €1bn to play with will make the developer an even more formidable player on the Irish exchange.

Rental income

Although securitising property rental income is a common practice among major international developers, this is the first time the instrument has been used in the Irish market.

Mr Carroll has bundled the rental income from many of his properties together. The banks then put this income into a conduit, known as a rental conduit, which is subsequently sold on to other banks who buy it in tranches.

Best known as a developer who sells on his properties, the securitisation is clear evidence that Mr Carroll also has one of the largest property portfolios in the country. Many of his tenants are blue-chip companies.

They include Google, which employs 2,000 people headquartered on Dublin's Barrow Street. Mr Carroll was recently granted planning permision to extend this development. His portfolio includes industrial, retail and residential schemes.

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