Investment Fund work gets underway with £20 million for Belfast office project

Date published: 08 May 2018

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The Northern Ireland Investment Fund has today announced its first project investment - a £20 million senior loan facility to Oakland Limited to finance their Merchant Square development.

Welcoming the project loan, the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Finance, Hugh Widdis, said: “Today’s announcement of the Merchant Square development sees the first project investment from the £100 million Northern Ireland Investment Fund.”

“This first project loan demonstrates the Northern Ireland Investment Fund’s positive impact and future potential in terms of facilitating private sector-led regeneration here. I look forward to further announcements in the time ahead on project loans being confirmed to stimulate additional economic growth and jobs”.

The scheme at Merchant Square will develop 202,740 sq ft of Grade A office accommodation with ground floor retail space. The Fund’s £20 million loan will be matched by private sector funding, providing significant leverage in the process.

The £100 million Northern Ireland Investment Fund was launched in November 2017 to provide debt or equity finance for commercial property, regeneration and low carbon projects in Northern Ireland. The Fund is managed by the CBRE Investment Advisory Team. 

Andrew Antoniades, Senior Director, CBRE Investment Advisory commented: “We are excited to be getting the Fund off to a fantastic start, well ahead of forecast. Making such a significant investment is a statement showing what the Fund is about - supporting regional growth whilst delivering exceptional leverage, outputs and returns for the Fund. We are well progressed with other exciting schemes within and outside Belfast and remain very much open for more applications”.

The Department of Finance has established a Scrutiny Board to oversee and monitor the Fund’s activities. The Scrutiny Board is chaired by Stephen Kirkpatrick, who commented: “The availability of senior debt finance for development projects of this nature remains severely constrained in the local market. It is therefore very encouraging to see the Northern Ireland Investment Fund help unlock such a significant investment, particularly so early in the life cycle of the Fund”.

Notes to editors: 

1.The previous Executive agreed, as part of its 2016-17 Budget, to allocate £100 million of Financial Transactions Capital to a new Investment Fund. CBRE was appointed as Fund Managers through a competitive procurement process. The £100 million funding will be provided to CBRE in three tranches, with the initial £40 million tranche having been disbursed in March 2018. Further tranches will then depend on CBRE meeting certain commitment and project disbursement targets.

2. It is expected that the £100 million is recycled by CBRE to deliver more than one investment cycle over the life of the Fund. Furthermore, CBRE is also obliged to deliver at least an equivalent level of private sector leverage. One investment cycle alone, therefore, will support at least £200 million of investment in the local economy.

3. CBRE is overseen by a Scrutiny Board, consisting of three private sector members and two public sector members. All the Investment Board members have been selected and appointed by Forde May consulting. The Chair of the Investment Board is Stephen Kirkpatrick, who has significant senior banking experience with Bank of Ireland and has held a number of other non-Executive Board positions.

4. For more information on CBRE visit - www.cbre.co.uk

5. Follow us on twitter @dptfinance  and like the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dptfinance

6. For media enquiries please contact the DoF Press Office on 028 9081 6724/028 9081 6727 or email dof.pressoffice@finance-ni.gov.uk. For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.

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