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LONDON-The Bank of Ireland may outsource its entire UK property portfolio estimated to be worth £120 million ($193 million).

Ireland’s second largest bank has appointed Nelson Bakewell to look at options as part of a review launched by Ted Pearce, the new head of property for the UK. Possibilities include a sale-and-leaseback of all the properties to one outsourcing company that would supply all the facilities management services as part of a 30-year deal. The company’s portfolio is valued at £500 million ($804.3 million) including 200 branches in the UK.

The Bank of Ireland is only the latest in a string of large companies across Europe that have sought or are seeking to outsource ownership and management of property as a means to free capital, allowing them to focus on their core business and fend off takeovers.

Those that have already do so include BBC, BP, Coca-Cola, Emap, Deutsche Bank, France Telecom and Suez, the French utility.

The capital raised has been used to either focus on core business cut debt. BT Group raised £2.3 billion ($3.7 billion) to pay down its £30 billion ($48.2 billion) debt mountain and the BBC was able to plough back into programme-making the £37 million ($59.4 million) it got.

The other appeal of outsourcing is that it releases companies from long leases, which in the UK have upwards-only rent reviews, and makes it easier to expand or contract their properties needs. The property management company takes on the risk of managing this while also being about to let unused premises to other tenants ensuring previously under-utilised space is occupied and rental income.

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