Irish

Saturday 26 July 2014

30,000 jobs hit by Anglo sell-off

Corporate titans in race against time to refinance Anglo loans ahead of looming Nama deadline

Tom Lyons and Nick Webb

Published 17/02/2013|04:00

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UP to 30,000 jobs could be affected by the State's dramatic decision to place IBRC into liquidation, triggering the rapid sell-off of its entire loan book. The jobs range from petrol stations to television to stockbroking, in what will be a massive sale of the debt of trading concerns.

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Topaz, the country's biggest operator of forecourts, required a €40m working capital line to be advanced urgently on the day that its principal banker, IBRC, was placed into liquidation.

The company secured its new credit line from the bank's liquidator KPMG, which in turn got if from Bank of Ireland.

The deal was put together inside 24 hours of the plug being pulled on IBRC in order to ensure that Topaz's petrol stations and airplane-refuelling business continued trading successfully.

Topaz, which is part-owned by billionaire Denis O'Brien and employs up to 1,000 people, continues to work with IBRC's liquidator.

IBRC also has a half-stake in Arnotts, the Dublin department store which employs 1,200 people. Along with Ulster Bank, IBRC had been looking at putting the store on the market in the first six months of this year.

However, the decision to place IBRC into liquidation will drag on whatever price might be achieved for the store.

Meanwhile, Davy Stockbrokers has already held talks with AIB and Bank of Ireland to refinance its debts of €140m, which are fully performing. The country's biggest stockbroker, which employs 450 people, has borrowings due to be refinanced in 2014.

O'Brien, the biggest shareholder in Independent News & Media, has repaid about €500m of his borrowings from IBRC since 2009. His representatives have met with the liquidator of the bank, KPMG, to discuss his borrowings.

He owes IBRC somewhere in the region of €300m and is considered to be the bank's best client.

Other major companies that may wish to finance elsewhere before their loans are either sold off or end up in the hands of the National Asset Management Agency include: Hickey's pharmacy chain; McCambridge bakers; Oran, a waste company; loans relating to Setanta; borrowings made by the McEvaddy brothers; the Racing Post and Jurys Inns.

Between them, these businesses employ thousands.

Borrowings related to Paddy McKillen and his companies will also go on the block, with 4,000 people employed by his varied business interests.

The liquidator of IBRC also plans to sell off its interest in the Quinn Group and Liberty Insurance at speed. The bank had planned to ease its way out of the business over several years.

During its pomp, Anglo was the borrower of choice of many of the best-known businesses and tycoons in the country.

Companies Registration Office records show that mortgages with Anglo have been held by Abrakebabra; Petrogas (owner of the Applegreen service-station chain); estate agent Sherry FitzGerald; the McHugh family-owned fishery group Atlantic Dawn; the Queally beef empire; Tom Roche's Woodford Capital; Moya Doherty and John McColgan's Tyrone Productions; Barry Maloney's family-owned Mount Falcon; and former Dragons' Den star Norah Casey's Harmonia.

Leo Crawford's BWG, which operates the Spar and Centra chains, no longer has any borrowings with Anglo.

Prior to the State's decision to push the nuclear button on IBRC, the bank's old management had in train a plan to shrink its net book to €2.9bn by the end of 2015.

At this point, liquidation might have been an option once all the viable businesses had been moved safely out of the bank.

IBRC's project Taylor, relating to the sale of 18 cash-flow companies with borrowings of €1.8bn, was nearing completion. Project Delta, a plan to sell €4bn of non-performing commercial-property loans – including syndicates featuring television stars, professionals and other well-known people – was also in train.

The sale of Irish Nationwide's mortgage book of €1.8bn was scheduled for next year when Ireland's property market was expected to recover once the country exited the bailout.

Among the likely short list of potential bidders for portfolios of big loan books are Cerberus, Blackstone, Reuben Bros, Lone Star, Kennedy Wilson, TPG and Deutsche Bank.

Irish Independent

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