Blackstone focuses on Ireland for major investments in 2014

Blackstone Group – the New York-based firm led by Stephen Schwarzman – has raised a fund worth some $5.5bn (€4.1bn) to buy European commercial real estate, and it is expected that much of that fund will be used to buy property here.

Blackstone has already done some deals in Ireland, but not on anything like the scale of other businesses based here.

The fund – known as Blackstone Real Estate Partners (BREP) Europe IV – has commitments worth €4.1bn but is yet to close, implying the final size of the fund will be even bigger than that.

That fund is already €1bn bigger than the previous record for a European property fund, which closed in 2009.

A company spokesman declined to comment on Blackstone’s plans, but industry sources are clear that the US firm, and other private equity firms, will be in the market here in 2014.

“Clearly it will depend on what becomes available, but Blackstone is the biggest real estate investor in the world, and it specialises in distressed assets, whether they have been overleveraged or over financed.

“Ireland has arguably the largest amount of good quality property in a distressed position in the world, so it’s only natural that a company like them will look to be involved over here,” he added.

Blackstone hit the headlines here when it agreed to buy the Burlington Hotel for some €67m in 2012, but did little business here in 2013.

Earlier this month however it forked out around €100m for three offices, known as the Platinum Portfolio, that had been owned by Nama and now agents here fully expect that deal to be the first of a much more active 2014 for Blackstone in Ireland.

One property agent contacted by the Sunday Independent said the market was already waiting on Blackstone to make their move, but warned that the price would have to be right for the New York-based fund to move in.

“We were surprised that the moved on the Platinum Portfolio properties, but that deal signalled to us that Blackstone will be here in a big way.

“It would be foolish to think that will be the only deal they do here in 2014,” added the agent, who did not want to be named for fear of damaging any potential relationship with Blackstone. Source: The Irish Independent.