Former NAMA executive's UK firm to invest £250m in property loans
The UK firm that hired former Nama executive Graham Emmett at the start of October is planning to raise £250m (€312m) to invest in property loans.
NAMA's former head of lending, Mr Emmett left the state agency in January this year and is now a partner at UK-based real estate investor ICG Longbow.
Now the London-based firm is planning to raise as much as £250m to invest in property debt by selling shares in a new unit through an initial public offering, or stock flotation, in London.
The plan is for the IPO to raise capital to invest in senior loans backed by commercial real estate in the UK.
A spokesman for ICG said yesterday that the new fund can not be used to buy loan assets from Nama or other Irish banks.
The Irish Independent revealed in October that ICG Longbow had acquired loans linked to a London hotel from Nama in August this year, before Mr Emmett joined the firm.
The debt backs London's Ramada Docklands Hotel, which is controlled by a joint venture part-owned by Cork developer Barry Harte's Harte Group.
Mr Harte's property loans with Irish banks including Anglo Irish Bank have been transferred to NAMA.
All sides involved in the deal said the sale was agreed prior to Mr Graham joining ICG Longbow and seven months after he left Nama, meaning there was no possibility of a conflict of interest in the case.
ICG Longbow's plan for a new debt fund makes it one of a number of ventures seeking to raise large amounts of cash in order to lend to the property sector, meeting a demand caused by the absence of traditional banks that are no longer active lenders.
The same trend is seen here, where would-be property sellers including Nama and Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) cite a lack of bank lending as a hurdle to their efforts to sell property.
Nama has plugged the gap to some extent through "vendor financing", essentially treating part of the sale price for some assets as a long-term loan that must be repaid by the buyer.