Loss of €100m on AIB HQ sale

Aviva Investors has sold AIB’s Ballsbridge headquarters in Dublin for a sum believed to be in the region of €70 million, which is a loss of over €100m on the amount paid for the property at the height of the boom in 2006.

The identity of the buyer is not known.

“We can confirm the sale of Blocks E, F, G & H Bankcentre, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. The buildings have been sold as part of an overall portfolio re-balancing exercise,” said a London -based spokesperson with Aviva Investors.

The company declined to provide the sale price or any other details of the transaction.

AIB’s Ballsbridge site was sold for roughly €380m in 2006 in a sale and leaseback agreement. Property developer Sean Dunne paid €200m for four of the eight blocks that make up the overall site.

Hibernian Life & Pensions, which was subsequently taken over by Aviva, paid around €180m for the remaining four blocks.

The sale, which is believed to have been completed on Thursday, was handled by estate agents Jones Lang LaSalle. The firm declined to comment on the transaction.

The price is a drop of over 60% on the original sum paid, which is consistent with the overall fall in the commercial property market in Dublin over that period.

It is believed that an international investment fund bought the site from Aviva Investors, although this could not be confirmed.

AIB has been centralising more of its staff in the Ballsbridge site as part of an overall group rationalisation process. It has a 20-year lease remaining on its Dublin 4 headquarters.

Last October Aviva announced 750 job losses and the closure of its 26-branch network around the country. The company blamed the challenging macro-economic conditions for the decision.

However, in March this year the health insurer announced that it would be creating 220 jobs in its Galway operations.

In a speech yesterday, chief executive of Nama Brendan McDonagh said the prospects for the commercial property market in Ireland were now more positive than at any time over the past five years.

“The market’s attractiveness is being helped by the changing international perception of Ireland and the desire amongst institutional investors, after a period of retrenchment, to spread their real estate risk more widely,” he said.

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