ABU DHABI- Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) has provided structured Islamic financing for Albilad Capital’s acquisition of the PWC HQ in Belfast, comprising the largest office transaction in Northern Ireland and the first major property investment in the country by a Middle East investor.
The property, known as Merchant Square, is situated at the heart of the Belfast Business District. The building extends to 240,713 sqft, providing 6 ground floor retail units with 225,000 sqft of Grade A office accommodation spread over 9 upper floors.
The property has recently been extensively renovated and extended with the works completing in mid-2020. The property is the first privately built commercial building of its kind in Northern Ireland to be awarded ‘Excellent’ status by BREEAM UK, which assesses new and refurbished buildings according to the environmental sustainability standards.
The offices have been leased to PWC on a new 20-year full repairing and insuring lease with 5 yearly upwards only rent reviews. PWC are currently fitting out the space to meet their specific requirements and are taking a pioneering approach in creating a “destination workplace” for its staff to work and socialise.
They are creating staff restaurants as well as a “wellbeing suite” with its own GP and Psychologist with Pilates classes, yoga and physio sessions.
Merchant Square is PWC’s largest office outside of London which will house up to 3,000 employees. Northern Ireland is PWC’s fastest growing UK region and Belfast is PWC’s recognised global centre for technology, digital advisory services, and research.
Paul Maisfield, Head of UK Real Estate at ADIB, said: “We are delighted to have supported Albilad Capital on this landmark transaction. The deal has strong fundamentals that meet our risk criteria including not only the long-term lease to PWC but their plans to deliver a quality, innovative, flexible and sustainable workspace with staff well-being at the heart of their design. In a sector which is witnessing an acceleration in work pattern change due to the pandemic these factors are set to become increasingly important for buildings to sustain marketability and value.
Zaid Al Mufarih, CEO of Albilad Capital, commented on behalf of the new owners, “The acquisition of this iconic asset, located in a prime location of Belfast, is an important step in the strategy of Albilad to increase its exposure to the UK real estate market. This transaction shows our confidence in the UK regional cities as long-term sources of growth and investment return”.
Wasim Choudhury and Taufiq Jamil, Partners at buy-side advisors, SPS Investment, a leading Sharia’a-compliant real estate advisory boutique, said “The completion of this deal further confirms the attraction of UK regional cities to Middle Eastern capital being deployed as part of wider portfolio diversification strategies. We are delighted to have completed this transaction along with Albilad Capital, working closely again…