€20m Cork Airport Business Park offices deal landed

Five Cork Airport Business Park office buildings, totalling 120,000 sq ft, including two let to Amazon, and which had been  by a Norwegian billionaire for over €15 million five years ago, have been sold off-market to an Irish/UK joint venture for over €20m.

The five, comprising Phase Two of the business park, along with a further three-acre development site, have been sold to a joint venture between Ireland’s Bartra Capital, headed by Richard Barrett, and UK-based private equity investor Henley, which manages $3.5bn assets.

Brian Edwards of CBRE Cork acted in the off-market €20m+ deal for Bartra/Henley, and Michele McGarry acted for the vendor/Scandinavian family fund, Adel Crest. The fund was headed by a colourful, wealthy Norwegian, Erik Henriksen, who died aged 58 in 2015 in a speedboat accident in the Cayman Islands, where he owned a home. Mr Henriksen became active in the Irish property market in 2013, and made at least two Cork investments as he said the returns were higher at the time than Dublin.

The Bartra Capital/Henley JV launched what it said was a €200m fund in April 2018 and now has made public Irish investments totalling close to €150m, the largest being 360,000 sq ft at Dublin’s Citywest for over €100m, and are actively seeking other acquisitions, while Bartra Capital (headed by ex Treasury Holdings’ Richard Barrett) says it has its own €600m property developments plans, spanning residential, nursing homes, and renewable energy.

The assets at the Cork Airport Business Park, where tenants include Amazon in 60,000 sq ft, Red Hat, Globtech and Bord Gáis, had previously sold in 2014 to billionaire Norwegian investor Erik Henriksen/Adel Crest for €15.1m, after competitive Irish and international bidding via Lisney and DTZ, with a rent roll at the time of €1.6m.

That 2014 deal put a c €500,000 value on the three-acre development site by Cork airport, and equated to a net initial yield of 10.8%, and approximately €120 psf on the buildings. Shortly afterwards the Scandinavian buyer bought another Cork investment, the Bank of Ireland branch at Wilton, for €3m via Savills, getting a 9% yield and a rent of €292,000, with a break option in 2021.

This year’s €20m+ Cork Airport Business Park office buildings’ deal was done off-market by Brian Edwards of CBRE, Cork, acting for the purchasers, and by Michele McGarry of Colliers again acting for the vendors, and it dovetailed with the larger JV swoop by Bartra Capital and Henley, which saw over €100m invested in Citywest Dublin, for a 369, 000 sq ft portfolio,including offices and data centres from Davy Hickey Properties.

The €125m Dublin and Cork purchases represent a significant step-up for the 2018 JV agreed between Bartra Capital and Henley, after their initial €15m ‘toe in the water’ purchase last year of Dublin’s Phoenix House, near Phoenix Park, and an industrial building at City West.

Henley’s Chief Investment Officer, Justin Meissel, said “the expansion of Henley Bartra’s portfolio are a testament to our capabilities in sourcing attractive off-market acquisitions that provide compelling risk-adjusted returns. Our continued interest in Ireland is representative of our strategies to focus on key European markets that offer favourable supply/demand dynamics and in investments that we believe will prove resilient throughout the uncertainty in the near term.”

Bartra director Paul McGrath added that the Citywest/Cork Airport Business Park acquisitions “has firmly established Henley Bartra as a significant presence in the dynamic Irish investment market. To ensure the JV’s continued growth trajectory, we will continue to seek and secure further acquisitions. In this way, we will meet the ambitious objectives set by Henley Bartra.”

Details: CBRE 021-491 7255.

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