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Investors seek commercial property in Ireland, says funds chief

DUBLIN: International funds are seeking to buy offices and stores in Ireland, signalling that the commercial real estate market may be close to the bottom, according to the head of a group representing the country’s biggest investors.

“Across the market, there are four or five active negotiations going on at the moment,” Gerry Keenan, chairman of the Irish Association of Investment Managers, said in an interview in Dublin on Nov 4. “I’d be very surprised if we don’t see a number of deals being done over the next two or three months. All players in the market are being approached.”

Irish commercial property prices have plunged 53% from their peak in 2007 as the economy suffers its worst-ever recession, Jones Lang LaSalle Inc said on Oct. 28. There are now signs the market is at its trough, according to Keenan.

“The evidence is that people are not saying, ‘I’ll bid you 20% less than current price,’” he said. “Bid values are, in some cases, even slightly better than current value.”

The approaches have come from institutions, private equity funds and groups of individuals, and there is “more than a handful” of interested groups, Keenan said. He said Irish Life Investment Managers, which he heads, may open up its Irish property fund in the next six months.

“If 10 people are knocking at your door, where there was none before, there’s something going on,” he said. – Bloomberg LP
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