Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Executive buys five Belfast office buildings

One of the office buildings is on Belfast's Bruce Street Image copyright Geograph
Image caption One of the office buildings is on Belfast's Bruce Street

The Northern Ireland Executive has bought five office buildings in Belfast as a way of reducing the money it spends on rent.

Among the buildings are Laganside House, which is the headquarters of the Courts Service and Clare House which is the Department of Finance headquarters.

It has also bought Seatem House on Alfred Street and 2 - 4 Bruce Street.

The purchase of Causeway Exchange on Bedford Street had already been reported.

Finance Minister Arlene Foster said her department has been carrying out an asset management project.

The objective of the project is to "achieve on-going reductions in operating costs such as rental charges within government's leased office accommodation portfolio".

She added that owning the offices rather than leasing them would "deliver £2.3m of annual rental savings from 1 April 2015".

She said this figure would increase to £3.5m per a year when the vacant space purchased becomes fully utilised over the next three years.

Causeway Exchange, Laganside House and 2 - 4 Bruce Street were all owned by Portadown-based developers Prentice Estates.

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

Clare House was owned by Turkington Holdings which has sold off most of its investment properties over the last two years.

Seatem House was sold out of receivership.

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