Councils' CIFCO firm invests in first Suffolk property
PUBLISHED: 16:24 14 December 2018
A property investment firm created by two Suffolk councils that had come under fire for investing outside of the county has acquired its first Suffolk asset.
CIFCO Capital Ltd is the investment arm of Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils and has pumped more than £25million in seven out-of-county sites.
Critics from opposition to the Conservative administrations had questioned why it did not have the confidence to acquire assets in the county.
Now it has emerged that it has purchased a warehouse site in Olympus Close, Ipswich, comprising 15 tenants as part of the White House Industrial Estate.
Mid Suffolk District Council chairman Derrick Haley, who is also a member of the CIFCO board, said: “This year’s new acquisitions in Hemel Hempstead and Ipswich help diversify CIFCO’s portfolio.
“What this means in practice is that our investments cover multiple locations and multiple sectors, making us less vulnerable to disruptions in any one area.
“This makes our income from CIFCO more secure, allowing Mid Suffolk to plan ahead confident in the income CIFCO can provide and plan how best to use that money to deliver services within the district.”
It follows the acquisition of an industrial complex in Hemel Hempstead, as well as properties in Peterborough, Milton Keynes, Harlow, Norwich and Brentwood last year.
The assets generate around £1.4m of income annually, with this figure expected to be around double once it has invested the whole of its planned £50m fund, which has come from the Public Works Loan Board.
Councillor Nick Ridley from Babergh District Council said: “Both of these assets strengthen our portfolio and are in line with our strategy of managing risk by buying properties in a variety of sectors and locations.
“These purchases diversify our portfolio, minimise the risks and promise to provide a good return to be invested in services in Babergh and Mid Suffolk.”
Mid Suffolk’s opposition Green group had called for the funds to be invested in much-needed housing and said CIFCO’s failure until now to invest locally was “hardly a vote of confidence in this part of the world”.
Andrew Stringer, Mid Suffolk Green councillor, said: “It’s good to see that Babergh and Mid Suffolk are willing to invest close to home, however this still does not mitigate the inherent risks involved. At least the investment might help the local economy.”