Irish real estate fund raises 200 mln euros in market debut

Reuters

* Meets fundraising target

* Joins similar funds on Irish market

* Franklin Templeton one of cornerstone investors

DUBLIN, April 16 (Reuters) - Irish Residential Property REIT (IRPR) raised 200 million euros ($276 million) in a stock market listing, meeting its target as it became the third such real estate investment trust to launch in Ireland in the last year.

It follows Green REIT and Hibernia REIT to the Irish market after the government made changes to permit the establishment of REITs, which allow investors to own property via a company rather than being direct landlords.

Irish property prices are rising again, after plunging by around 50 percent when a credit-fuelled real estate bubble burst, wreaking havoc on the country's banks and pushing the country into an EU/IMF bailout, which it exited last year.

U.S. asset manager Franklin Templeton, which made one of the canniest trades in Europe's debt crisis in buying Irish debt before the country started to recover, made a cornerstone investment in IRPR, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Templeton put in 25 million euros and was joined by Toronto-listed CAPREIT, which invested 40 million. Ireland's largest life assurance company, Irish Life Assurance plc, invested 24.2 million euros and New York investment trust Fir Tree Partners 30 million, IRPR said.

Templeton also holds 7.5 percent of Green REIT.

"The company intends to use the funds raised to acquire a strong portfolio of multi-unit residential properties in Dublin and the other major urban centres," IRPR Chief Executive David Ehrlich said.

IRPR has a portfolio of 338 residential units in the greater Dublin area valued at 45.5 million euros.

Irish house prices rose by 0.1 percent month-on-month in February and were 8.1 percent higher than a year earlier. ($1 = 0.7234 euros) (Reporting by Sam Cage; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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