Belfast Telegraph

Refinancing deals help Titanic Quarter firm 'look to future'

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.

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 evaluating 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.

Belfast Telegraph

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