Investment fund Hibernia REIT upbeat as portfolio value tops €1bn

Publicly-quoted investment fund Hibernia REIT said it is well-positioned to benefit from any Brexit upside — in the form of UK-based companies looking to relocate to Dublin — and is adequately funded to take advantage of property acquisition opportunities.

The company — which mainly focuses on Dublin-based commercial property — said it is in “active discussions” with a number of parties looking for new and/or additional office space in the capital and is well-capitalised, with around €234m to spend on acquiring new property Hibernia expects property assets to come to market as private equity houses sell Irish interests in the wake of the Government closing loopholes which previously allowed so-called ‘vulture funds’ and other investors to avoid paying taxes on profits made from property deals here.

Hibernia — whose tenants include Twitter and ComReg — yesterday reported pre-tax profits of €32.4m for the six months to the end of September.

This was down from a first half profit of €73.7m last year, with the decline due to the re-evaluation of properties amid shrinking capital growth values.

However, contracted rent roll increased by over 18% to €46.2m and the overall value of Hibernia’s property portfolio now exceeds €1bn for the first time, which management sees as a “significant milestone” to have passed in less than three years in existence.

“While it is still early days, we are optimistic regarding the Dublin office market’s prospects to benefit from the UK’s decision to leave the EU, although we recognise the timing and terms remain unclear and there are risks to the wider Irish economy. We are also monitoring closely the impact of the recent property tax changes proposed in the Finance Bill. While these do not affect REITs directly, they may create uncertainty in the investment market in the near term as well as possible opportunities if some parties choose to exit the market,” said Hibernia REIT chief executive Kevin Nowlan.

 He said it is far too early to tell if Donald Trump’s election win spells trouble for Irish inbound investment levels, but stressed companies locate here for more than just tax reasons.


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