AN overseas property investment company acquired over 300 apartments in Cork in 2018, in two strong swoops for €67m combined - instantly making it the region’s largest PRS [Private Rented Sector] landlord to date.
And, having acquired the assets in Blackpool’s City Square and a sizeable section of the Quadrants and the Crescent in Ballincollig (165 out of a total 270 developed there), the same firm, LRC Group Europe, is now expected to compete for further similar quality investments and asset management opportunities locally, and nationally, in 2019.
The pan-European group, LRC Europe which has been growing since 1995, now has over €5bn in assets, with offices in Dublin and Belfast, as well as London, Amsterdam and Berlin and several other Europen cities.
Quietly active on some of Cork’s largest PRC asset sales in 2018, LRC successfully acquired City Square, on the Watercourse Road comprising 140 apartments, ground floor commercial and retail spaces plus a swathe of underground parking via agent Isobel O’Regan of Savills for Grant Thornton, at €32m.
That competitive deal, which concluded in Q3, was reported here since July ‘18 in these pages, however the buyer’s identity had not been publicly confirmed at the time.
City Square had been developed by Cork firm Frinailla, on a three-acre site painstaking assembled through the early 2000s, and has an annual income of €2m, or €40,000 per week, with €1.816m from the residential units, backed up by €177,000 pa in commercial income, and scope to expand that considerably.
Following that €32m City Square investment and asset management acquisition, LRC also late in the year was the top bidder at approximately €35m for 165 apartments, duplexes and some commercial ground floor units the O’Flynn Construction-developed Quadrants and The Crescent, in the Ballincollig Town Centre redevelopment. The offer of the retail development investment at over €20m - also being sold for Blackstone - has been forecast for 2019.
The Ballincollig LRC deal on 165 units with a stated €2.5m income for a c 6.5% return was done by Margaret Kelleher, Lisney Cork, with joint agents Savills, with the buyer in late 2018 only identified at the time as a European fund.
However, market sources since have confirmed the buyers of the two chunky €67m Cork PRS assets as LRC, and say it automatically makes them Metropolitan Cork’s largest landlords in this class.
Also expected to be active in other (lesser) asset offers during 2019 may be the likes of Kennedy Wilson, who got over 200 apartments and a substantial rent roll when they bought the Elysian via Lisney, from Blackstone for €87.5m.
LRC Europe has been active in Dublin, building to over 500 units over two years by mid-2018, with its Cork adjunct properties adding considerably to its portfolio, and is also active in the hospitality sector, notably through the Hilton brand.
The company’s website says it specialises “in structuring and executing portfolio transactions from distressed situations and turning them around through strong in-house asset management with a solid, demonstrated track record”.