independent

Monday 21 April 2014

IDA Ireland forced to write off more than €200m from property portfolio

Independent deputy Shane Ross
Independent deputy Shane Ross

IDA IRELAND – the state agency charged with bringing foreign direct investment into Ireland – has written off almost €200m from the value of its property portfolio, it can be revealed.

In an indication of the scale of the losses currently being “nursed by the taxpayer”, it has emerged that the IDA spent €68.5m on a 134-acre site in Carrigtwohill, Co Cork, which is lying idle and is “being used to graze sheep”.

New IDA documents seen by the Irish Independent reveal that the agency has a portfolio of 136 properties – many bought during the boom – which cost €463m to buy.

Due to the economic crash, the IDA has been forced to significantly write down their value by more than 41pc.

The documents, authored by Regina Gannon, chief financial officer at IDA Ireland, reveal the shocking scale of the losses being nursed by sites in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Galway, Dundalk, and other large towns across Ireland.

She stated: “In the past few years there has been a general downward trend in valuations as was the case with all lands and property. IDA property holding are valued yearly by two independent valuers. The valuation adopted is the average of the two valuations which is subsequently adopted by the board of the IDA.”

In a statement to the Irish Independent, an IDA spokesman insisted that despite the substantial impairment provision on their properties, located around the country and including major sites on the outskirts of the major cities, this does not “represent a loss to the taxpayer”.

“There has been a major property downturn in recent years, similar to many other bodies in charge of lands, (and) IDA Ireland has had to account for these new valuations in its accounts,” the spokesman added.

These claims were, however, strongly rejected by two leading members of the Dail's spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee – Independent TD Shane Ross and Fianna Fail's Sean Fleming.

Mr Ross said the documents show that the IDA has hidden losses in properties all over Ireland.

“They have been less than transparent with their information, and the taxpayer is the one paying for it.

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“They engaged in extravagant financial decisions which are now only becoming clear.”

Mr Fleming said IDA write downs of over 40pc is “phenomenally bad news for taxpayers. “This represents unbelievably bad financial management.

The losses are a gross insult to the taxpayer”.

The €68.5 million Carrigtwohill site was last night still posted on the IDA website as available for development.

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