Fine Grain Property | An Evening with Dan O’Brien

Property group and State to invest €100m in commercial property

May 2017: Property group and State to invest EUR100m in commercial property.

Fine Grain Property is chaired by former Telecom Éireann chairman Ron Bolger, pictured here in 1997. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh.

Fine Grain Property Ireland teams up with Ireland Strategic Investment Fund

Fine Grain Property, a Singapore company chaired by former Telecom Éireann chairman Ron Bolger, has joined up with the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (Isif) to invest €100 million in new commercial property in Ireland.

Fomer Jurys Inn and Amaris Hospitality chief financial officer Cormac Ó Tighearnaigh, has been hired as chief executive of Fine Grain Property Ireland, which will revamp old commercial facilities and also develop greenfield sites.

State-owned ISIF, the successor to the old National Pension Reserve Fund, is investing €25 million in the plan, while Fine Grain has sourced a similar amount, mainly from high net worth investors in Asia.

The €50 million will be likely be topped up with a similar amount of debt, and invested in business parks, industrial properties and logistics facilities aimed at multinational companies in Ireland, as well as local businesses.

It has already acquired two commercial properties in Ireland with sitting tenants, one in the East Point business park in Dublin and another in Parkmore West business park in Galway.

Upgrade

Fine Grain property Ireland says it is seeking to acquire “under-invested and under-managed” commercial property in Ireland, which it will upgrade. It intends to then manage these properties, as well as its new builds, for the long term after all develpment work has been completed.

The joint venture with Isif is consistent with the State fund’s aim of directing cash towards projects and facilities that help attract foreign direct investment.

Former KPMG managing partner Mr Bolger, who is the honorary consul-general of Singapore in Ireland, will chair the Irish operation as well as the overall Fine Grain group. He and Mr Ó Tighearnaigh are joined on the Irish board by Fine Grain’s group chief executive and founder, Colin MacDonald.

Mr MacDonald is a former HSBC banker who is based in the Asian city state, where he founded Fine Grain a decade ago. It has invested in scores of hotels and other commercial schemes.

Fine Grain has regularly tapped into the high net worth scene in Singapore to fund its activities there, where it often upgrades existing facilities in a strategy similar to the one that the Irish venture will adopt.

Dealmaker

Mr Bolger has been a prominent dealmaker in Ireland, mostly via his Ely Capital outfit, since leaving KPMG almost two decades ago. He has extensive links in Asia, especially Singapore, and is a former member of the government’s Asia Strategy Group.

Mr Ó Tighearnaigh was on the team that helped expand Jurys Inn in the UK, before using it is the linchpin to set the Amaris group for Lone Star. He left Amaris last February.

“The current phase of development of Irish commercial property offers very attractive opportunities for long-term, sustainable growth for patient investors,” he said.

Eugene O’Callaghan, the director of Isif, said its venture with Fine Grain is a “good example of our double bottom-line mandate of seeking a commercial return and facilitating employment” across the State.

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