Ti­tanic swoop for Des­mond

One of busi­ness­man’s in­vest­ment firms pumps £28.7m into Belfast prop­erty

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY MAR­GARET CAN­NING

THE firm be­hind Ti­tanic Quar­ter made a loss of £1.3m dur­ing 2016 as it pointed to “chal­leng­ing” con­di­tions in prop­erty de­vel­op­ment as well as the im­pact of im­paired prop­erty values.

But Ti­tanic Is­land Ltd has said it’s well-equipped for the fu­ture af­ter reach­ing two re­fi­nanc­ing deals — in­clud­ing one with Ir­ish busi­ness­man Der­mot Des­mond, mak­ing him 50% owner of Ti­tanic Quar­ter.

One of Mr Des­mond’s in­vest­ment firms has pumped £28.7m into the busi­ness.

The ac­counts show that the firm had rev­enue of £10.5m dur­ing 2016, down slightly from £11m the year be­fore.

There was group op­er­at­ing prof­its of £2.6m, be­fore an ag­gre­gate reval­u­a­tion loss of £1.5m.

The com­pany, also re­fi­nanced af­ter its loans were sold by Ul­ster Bank, and is now bor­row­ing £44.7m from Danske Bank, as well as £28.7m from Bot­tin BV, which is ul­ti­mately con­trolled by Der­mot Des­mond ( right).

Ti­tanic Is­land said the deal pro­vided the “solid fi­nan­cial plat­form” to con­tinue the re­gen­er­a­tion of the area, which is home to of­fices, a Premier Inn ho­tel, apart­ments, Ti­tanic Belfast, the Pub­lic Records Of­fice North­ern Ire­land (PRONI), Belfast Met­ro­pol­i­tan Col­lege and other en­ti­ties.

And it’s also been car­ry­ing out the ren­o­va­tion of the former Har­land & Wolff Draw­ing Of­fices, which will be trans­formed into bou­tique venue Ti­tanic Ho­tel Belfast and open for busi­ness from Septem­ber. How­ever, Ti­tanic Is­land does not in­clude the rental in­come from the Gate­way Of­fice build­ing at Ti­tanic Quar­ter, which is let to global bank­ing gi­ant Cit­i­group. Nick Reid, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Ti­tanic Is­land Ltd and a former chief ex­ec­u­tive of Wil­liam Ewart Prop­er­ties, said the re­fi­nanc­ing would en­able more de­vel­op­ment work to be car­ried out in Ti­tanic Quar­ter. “This will in­clude fur­ther com­mer­cial, ho­tel, res­i­den­tial and tourism projects,” he said. So far, 26 of its to­tal 185 acres have been de­vel­oped. Con­struc­tion is to be­gin later this year on Olympic House, a £30m joint ven­ture with Belfast Har­bour Com­mis­sion­ers. And the busi­ness is also evalu- at­ing pro­pos­als from ho­tel de­vel­op­ers for the pur­chase of a ho­tel de­vel­op­ment site at Hamil­ton Dock in Ti­tanic Quar­ter.

Mr Reid added: “The group and its share­hold­ers are com­mit­ted to pro­gress­ing fur­ther de­vel­op­ment in Ti­tanic Quar­ter in the near term.

“Once com­plete, these de­vel­op­ments will fur­ther con­trib­ute to the pos­i­tive im­pact of Ti­tanic Quar­ter on the lo­cal econ­omy and on the in­fra­struc­ture of North­ern Ire­land.”

Last year Ti­tanic Quar­ter and Belfast Har­bour reached a set­tle­ment through me­di­a­tion of a le­gal wran­gle over the de­vel­op­ment of land.

In tan­dem with Ti­tanic Is­land’s am­bi­tions, Belfast Har­bour has emerged as a ma­jor prop­erty de­vel­oper in its own right, as well as ul­ti­mate land­lord of Ti­tanic Quar­ter.

It has de­vel­oped of­fice blocks in two phases so far of its City Quays con­cept, and has also opened film stu­dios at the North Fore­shore.

The Ti­tanic Belfast at­trac­tion is one of the build­ings in the Ti­tanic Quar­ter

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