Vanrath buys Belfast offices in major £12.5m deal
A professional recruitment agency has bought one of Belfast's most prominent new office buildings for £12.5m.
Vanrath purchased Victoria House in Belfast city centre from Aviva in a £12.5m sale, managed by agents Lambert Smith Hampton and Riddell McKibbin.
The acquisition of the 58,000 sq ft Grade A development on Gloucester Street is one of the most significant commercial property deals in the city this year.
Vanrath will occupy vacant space on the eighth floor of the 11-storey Victoria House which is also home to a host of other tenant businesses including Arthur Cox Solicitors, Oracle, Zurich Insurance and Keenan Corporate Finance.
In a joint statement Wayne Sullivan and Neil McKibbin, owners of Vanrath, said: "Victoria House is a strategic acquisition of a prime office building in Belfast city centre that complements our established and rapidly expanding recruitment business alongside our property portfolio interests.
"We are excited about moving the Vanrath business to Victoria House and providing the highest quality workspace for our consultants."
Rowena Crowley, senior asset manager of Aviva, said: "Victoria House forms part of our UK Property Select Fund. The sale of this asset forms part of our ongoing strategic review of the fund and further represents the strength of the assets we hold, completing a sale in a Brexit looming market."
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Martin McCloy, director of capital markets at Lambert Smith Hampton, said: "We are delighted to have advised Aviva on the disposal of Victoria House, having acquired the property for them back in 2014.
"The market has been starved of stock in recent months, but this transaction shows that where there are willing buyers and willing sellers, deals can be done."
Dublin-based investment group F&C REIT bought the office block in a £8.7m deal back in 2014.
The building was purchased for an unnamed client, which turned out to be a Aviva.
Jonathan Elder, corporate banking manager at Danske Bank, which financed the acquisition by Vanrath, said: "It is great to see an ambitious company like Vanrath showing its confidence in the local economy and the future growth potential of its business by making such an important strategic investment in the city centre.
"Wayne and Neil have a clear plan to grow Vanrath and Danske Bank was pleased to support them as they implement this next step."
The sale comes just as the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank Commercial Market Survey was released showing that activity in the commercial market had dipped here.
It said the net balance for overall occupier demand in Northern Ireland was -11%, meaning that 11% more respondents said that occupier demand fell than those who said it rose.
However, the survey revealed that out of all markets in the commercial property world here the office sector was faring well, growing at a healthy rate albeit slower than previous years.