Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Executive buys Belfast's Causeway Exchange

Bedford Street Image copyright Geograph
Image caption Causeway Exchange, right, is on Belfast's Bedford Street

The Northern Ireland Executive has bought a central Belfast office building for just over £12m saying it will "generate substantial rental savings".

Causeway Exchange on Bedford Street is the headquarters of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and also accommodates other civil servants.

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton said that as government departments planned to remain in the building for the longer term, the purchase was "clear value for money."

The building was owned by Portadown-based developers Prentice Estates.

In 2014, Prentice's bank loans were sold to the US investment fund Lone Star.

This is the second major office building the executive has bought in recent years.

In 2013, it paid £39m for the Invest NI headquarters building.

The then finance minister Sammy Wilson said that would save £3m a year in rental payments, totalling £24m over the lease period.

Commenting on the latest deal Simon Hamilton said: "In 2014/15 a capital budget was allocated by DFP to pursue asset management projects with the objective of making investments that benefit the public purse.

"Causeway Exchange was offered for sale and as an existing tenant, with plans to remain in the building for the longer term, DFP made a bid to purchase the building.

"This investment represented clear value for money that will generate substantial rental savings at a time when public budgets are under significant strain."

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