Ardstone predicts over €2.5bn of Irish deals in 2013…and readies new fund

Heightened levels of activity will lead to €2.5bn to €3bn of real estate assets and non-performing loans trading in Ireland this year, according to an analysis by pan-European investment manager Ardstone Capital. This figure excludes the once off liquidation of IBRC, of which approximately €15bn of loans are in Ireland.

Ardstone said market activity will not reach frenzy levels but will be ‘well in excess of the previous four years’ as both domestic and crossborder investors step up a gear.

‘The number and strength of international investors active in the Irish market is far greater than was imagined two years ago,’ said Donal O’Neill, co-founder and head of investments at Ardstone. The investment manager based its predictions on an independent analysis of recent transactions in the Irish market, the investors operating in the market, their strategies and risk appetite.

O’Neill says the list of investors who have actually transacted has an ‘opportunistic feel’ to it at the moment. This category includes London & Regional, Blackstone, Northwood, Lone Star, Apollo Global, CarVal and King Street Capital. Kennedy Wilson, the Ardstone analysis notes, is also very active in the market, following an ‘all-encompassing’ strategy it employed in Japan in the 1990’s.

Interest in Irish real estate is reviving in line with the improving economy. Ardstone believes Ireland is ‘punching above its weight and is leading the peripheral countries out of recession’ after 3-4 tough years. ‘The Irish economy is returning to growth and opportunities are emerging in the property market. Having fallen 65% from peak to trough, the property market stabilised during 2012 and is now returning to growth.’

Ardstone is understood to be actively pursuing opportunities in the top regional UK markets and also in Ireland. It has recently acquired an office asset in Dublin and is pursuing several other opportunities in the market with its capital partners. Additionally, Ardstone has secured a substantial cornerstone investor for its Dublin focussed Ardstone Value Partners value-add fund and is believed to be in advanced discussions with other LP’s.