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Case study – Raising £105m of development finance

The background

Radius is a Northern Irish social housing organisation which currently builds around 400 social housing houses a year at a cost of £50m which is jointly public and private funded. Radius was seeking to access a new stream of private finance to part-fund the next three to four years of its housing programme.

How did Wilson Nesbitt rise to the challenge?

Wilson Nesbitt had previously advised Radius on bank debt – having completed a £50m mandate for them in 2016. However, this time, Radius wanted to look afresh and see what would be possible if it accessed the debt capital markets.

Part of the challenge was the volume of housing stock that Wilson Nesbitt needed to be au fait with. The firm worked alongside counterparts in England and the United States to make sure that the securitisation was investor-ready for the world’s largest capital markets.

Anita Conway explains: “The lawyers at Wilson Nesbitt had knowledge on some of our stock, having previously advised us on it, but they needed to understand the housing stock that came as a result of our merger with Helm in 2017. They needed to do that against a tight deadline to make sure that we could get the transaction away in time.”

The result

Conway continues: “The bond work has enabled us to grow. It was complex but it’s the thing that we’re most proud of having worked on with Wilson Nesbitt so far.

“Wilson Nesbitt was our lead counsel on the securitisation.

“They chase and they’re proactive. They come to us with new solutions that we haven’t thought of, which is always a positive. Never was this more evident than during the extensive legal work required for our recent £105m bond issue.

“Without this funding, we would not have been able to build homes so urgently needed in our communities. The overall economic benefit of being able to spend £50m building housing annually is around £140m. That’s why we’re so keen on maximising and making the most efficient use of our funding.

“Wilson Nesbitt has a history of helping us to raise private finance but their work on this bond issue has given us the confidence to do it again.”

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