Starwood stakebuilding at Ires stokes intrigue as Capreit drip-feeds shares into market

Muted reaction by Ires’s share price shows market not getting carried away by new investor’s presence just yet

Ires Reit’s founding shareholder Capreit has continued its recent strategy of drip-feeding shares into the market, even as the apartment group’s board – under the gaze of an activist investor – has embarked on a review that may lead to a sale or break-up of the company.

Capreit assembled Ires’s initial portfolio, managed its 2014 initial public offering (IPO) and racked up almost €50 million in fees before being dropped two years ago as asset and property manager as the work was brought in-house.

No fan of Ires’s soon-to-depart chief executive Margaret Sweeney, Capreit has voted against her re-election in the two subsequent shareholder meetings. It also backed Vision Capital, the activist, in its failed bid last month to overhaul the board and secure a mandate for a sale or disposals programme.

Capreit had reduced its holding in Ires to 16.3 per cent as of Thursday. It had stood at 18.7 per cent a month ago.


However, there has been an intriguing buyer in the market: US property specialist Starwood Capital. Having disclosed an initial 1.52 per cent interest in Ires last week, it has since increased its position to 1.9 per cent.

Starwood backs Urbeo, a Dublin-based build-to-rent business behind 2,000 apartments. There has been speculation that Starwood might either be positioning itself to ultimately get hold of some of Ires’s portfolio – or to make an outright bid.

Starwood may also, of course, just be looking to make a quick buck. It has form on this front. It built up an almost 3 per cent interest in Hibernia Reit before the then offices group revealed in March 2022 that it was being acquired. Starwood sold its shares within days of the announcement, after the stock spiked to meet the bid price.

The Ires board – which has yet to find a successor to Sweeney – is facing pressure from a number of shareholders (40 per cent voted with Vision on its key resolutions) looking for an early liquidity event.

Still, the muted reaction by Ires’s share price – up less than 2 cents at 99.6c since Starwood’s first stake disclosure – suggests the market isn’t getting carried away by new investor’s presence just yet.