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Monday 26 September 2016

Financial Services office block doubles in value to over €70m in three years

Investor Steve Staunton
Investor Steve Staunton

A prime office block in Dublin's IFSC that was bought three years by a fund controlled by Credit Suisse has been valued at €70m.

That's twice the price it was sold for in 2013 by a group of up to 78 private investors that were assembled by Warren Private.

Among those investors who were part of the syndicate to buy La Touche House was former Ireland football manager Steve Staunton.

The surge in the building's valuation starkly demonstrates the rapidity and scale with which the capital's office market recovered following the crash.

The sale during the downturn also underscores how deals snapped up by outside investors have provided massive returns.

La Touche House was acquired in April 2013 by a Luxembourg-based company backed by a Credit Suisse fund.

Accounts for the Luxembourg firm demonstrate how quickly the building's value shot up following the purchase.

By the end of 2014, the building was valued by Zurich-based firm Weust and Partner at €50.4m.

By the end of 2015, that valuation had soared to €70m.

Given the lack of prime office space in the capital, it's likely that the valuation has risen even since last December.

La Touche House was built in 1993 and formed the vanguard of the IFSC development.

Bank of Ireland bought it that year as a shell building for €38m.

When the investors assembled by Warren Private queued up to buy it in 2002 for €82m, they were lured by tax breaks that enabled them to offset rental income against €48m in unclaimed capital allowances.

That was likely to result in a tax break of about €100,000 per investor. Those investors - including high-profile Irish business people and professionals - stumped up a total of almost €25m to help fund the purchase. The remainder of the acquisition cost was provided by means of non-recourse finance from Anglo Irish Bank.

The investors subsequently shared a €7m payout after the property, located at the front of the IFSC, was refinanced with Barclays, giving it an estimated value in 2007 of over €100m.

The six-storey block, which has a basement, is occupied by high-profile clients, including Zurich Bank, Dexia Credit, Unicredit and others.

It generates an annual rent roll of about €4m.

The accounts for the Luxembourg company behind the building show that a €1.3m dividend was paid last year to the fund that controls the firm.

The Luxembourg company has also set aside an €11.3m provision for the likely tax due on the unrealised capital gain, in the event of a sale, and based on the €70m valuation put on the property at the end of 2015.

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