November 12, 2019 / 9:18 AM / a month ago

Ireland's Hibernia REIT sees nerves about UK crashing out of EU easing

DUBLIN, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Irish property firm Hibernia REIT, which mainly leases offices in Dublin, reported a 1.4% rise in EPRA net asset value (NAV) - reflecting the value of its buildings - and raised its interim dividend by 17% on Tuesday.

Irish firms put expansion plans on hold ahead of the missed Oct. 31 Brexit deadline but nerves have eased regarding the risk of Britain crashing out of the European Union without a deal, the company said.

“Definitely Brexit spooked some domestic companies but it seems like we’ve got a two-track market now, the FDI (foreign direct investment) guys, particularly in tech, have been continuing to take more space,” CEO Kevin Nowlan told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“Those companies are getting a bit more relaxed about what’s going to happen and I think there is going to be a solution to Brexit. Post October 31, there has definitely been an uptick,” Nowlan said.

Hibernia’s EPRA net asset value (NAV) rose to 175.7 euro cents at the end of September from 173.3 cents six months earlier.

The firm raised its interim dividend by 17% to 1.75 cents per share.

Hibernia’s vacancy rate of 12% would likely have been lower without the 8 to 10 week hiatus that led to a change of strategy at one of its prime Dublin buildings, 2 Windmill Lane, where it is focusing on attracting one or two larger tenants rather than letting floor by floor.

Nowlan added that proposals for how big multinationals are taxed around the globe will have an impact on Ireland, whose low corporate tax rate has proved a magnet for such firms, but the new rules are unlikely to fundamentally change Ireland’s appeal.

“I don’t think they are massive game changers,” he said. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by Jason Neely)

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