05 Feb 2024

Choice has agreed a new £70m loan with Ulster Bank that supports our plans to invest in more than 875 affordable homes in Northern Ireland.

Savills Financial Consultants helped Choice agree the new 15-year arrangement.

Choice recently developed 90 new homes on the former Park Avenue Hotel site in East Belfast, and plans to develop hundreds of new homes for social and private tenure with the bank’s support by 2025.

At present, the association is developing 947 new homes across 16 projects across Northern Ireland, including flagship housing schemes in schemes in Rosses Gate, Derry/Londonderry, the King’s Hall, Belfast and St. Clare’s Convent, High Street, Newry.

Michael McDonnell, Chief Executive of Choice Group, said: “We are pleased to announce this new loan facility from Ulster Bank. As a result of this arrangement, we are able to access funds quickly and effectively and have fixed our cost of long-term finance.

“The cost-of-living crisis, high inflation and geo-politics have impacted every sector across society and social housing is no exception. Whilst our performance in terms of meeting our social homes targets has been good, this facility will support us greatly as we take forward our development plans.

“We engaged with Savills Financial Consultants to find a tailored, competitive financing solution that aligned with our wider business objectives to invest more in our social housing pipeline. We are very pleased with the engagement with Richard and Claire at Ulster Bank and the resulting financial package”.

Richard Lusty, Relationship Director at Ulster Bank, said: “Ulster Bank is proud to be the preferred Banking partner to support this transaction.  Supporting the social housing sector in Northern Ireland is aligned with our purpose of helping people, families and businesses to thrive".

Claire McKeown, Associate Director at Ulster Bank added: “The structure of the facility demonstrates the strength of the relationship that Ulster Bank has with Choice and Savills, alongside the wider benefits of being part of NatWest Group. Working in partnership with our NatWest Markets colleagues, we were able to provide Choice with a tailored and flexible solution that helps to achieve their goals and ambitions, alongside managing interest rate risk in more challenging economic times.”

Alex Morgan, Director at Savills Financial Consultants, said: “We have worked closely with Choice from the outset of this transaction to achieve a flexible solution that provides our client with the certainty they require, without over-committing in a high interest rate environment. The teams across all parties to the transaction have worked hard to deliver a tailored solution for Choice which meets all of the objectives set at the start of the process.”

The transaction was also supported by Trowers & Hamlins, Shoosmiths and Pinsent Masons.