Northern Irish fund awards first loan for Belfast scheme

The £100 mln (€115 mln) Northern Ireland Investment Fund (NIIF) has awarded its first loan, a £20 mln senior debt facility to Oakland for the re-development of Merchant Square in Central Belfast.

The NIIF, which is managed by CBRE’s investment advisory team, part of CBRE Capital Advisors, was launched in November last year to provide debt finance for real estate, regeneration, low carbon and infrastructure projects and is managed on behalf of the Department of Finance and the Northern Ireland Strategic Investment Board.

'We are excited to be getting the fund off to a fantastic start, well ahead of forecast,' said Andrew Antoniades, senior director, CBRE investment advisory.

'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.'

First speculative office scheme in Belfast for years
According to CBRE investment advisory, the Merchant Square project is the first speculative office scheme of its size and quality for several years in Belfast.

The funding will finance the redevelopment and extension of existing offices to provide 202,740 ft2 (18,835 m2) of Grade A office accommodation with a ground floor retail element. The fund’s loan will match the existing mezzanine debt and equity behind the scheme pound for pound.

'This first project loan demonstrates the NIIF’s positive impact and future potential in terms of facilitating private sector-led regeneration here,' said Hugh Widdis, permanent secretary, Northern Ireland department of finance.

'I look forward to further announcements in the time ahead on project loans being confirmed to stimulate additional economic growth and jobs.'


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