Royal Liver switches from seller to buyer
Royal Liver Assurance may purchase Irish commercial properties which would fit with its portfolio currently valued at around €200m. In an upbeat revision of its property strategy, it has also withdrawn a number of prime retail properties some which were close to deals and it has appointed CB Richard Ellis as external property advisor.
The withdrawals follow a similar move by AIB in relation to its prime Grafton St branch. One of the few UK assurers with Irish properties, Royal Liver had been close to a deal to sell the McDonalds on Grafton St, Dublin last year. It was reported to have been offered €23m for the high street building, €2m less than the asking price. However that deal fell through after the Government introduced a law banning upward only rent reviews.
Reflecting the assurer's changed view of the market, Peter Fane, head of property at Royal Liver said: "Despite the difficulties the Irish property market has faced in the last 18 months, we feel that market conditions are stabilising. We hope to be active in the market during 2010".
Among the properties it has withdrawn from sale are The Café en Seine in Dawson St. It was asking €8.9m and offering a net yield of 6.5pc on a rent of €539,700.
Also withdrawn are two Henry St properties. One property, which is let to O2 at €290,000 per annum, had been seeking €5.5m.
Next door, number 51, was priced at €4.5m and is let to Vodafone at €335,000.
A number of insurance and investment companies had been under pressure to sell properties since the property market peaked to meet the encashment demands of investors. As the market begins to stabilise, such pressure is also easing.
Royal Liver is currently seeking tenants for two prime retail properties, one a store next to McDonalds in Grafton St which has been vacated by the international footwear chain Footlocker and the other at 1 South Anne's St which was previously occupied by Monica John.