Irish

Friday 1 August 2014

NAMA chair defends sale of Battersea site 'at right time'

Donal O'Donovan

Published 03/03/2014|02:30

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Battersea Power Station
Battersea power station
NAMA chairman Frank Daly

THE chairman of NAMA has defended the agency's sale of the Battersea power station site in London against claims it should have held out for a higher price.

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It follows claims that taxpayers here may have lost out on hundreds of millions of euro because of the timing of a 2012 sale by NAMA of loans secured on the site, which has planning permission for London's biggest property development.

The disposal was described by Kevin McCauley, senior director of research and consulting at CBRE in London, as "the deal of the century", for Malaysian buyer SP Setia.

"We didn't sell early, we sold at the right time," Frank Daly, chairman of NAMA, said.

"We sold that loan for £500m (€600m). So we got back the full value of the loan."

The idea that NAMA should have held on and developed Battersea and other London sites itself – and therefore have recouped billions of euro down the road for the taxpayer – misses the reality, Mr Daly claimed.

To develop the Battersea site it would have had to pay £200m to buy out Lloyds Banking Group's share of loans secured on the property and then invested as much as €6bn in construction, Mr Daly said.

"Is that what Irish taxpayers' money should be doing – a €6bn property play in London with no guarantee of a return?" he said.

"Do you do that in London when the construction sector here is still struggling? I don't think so."

He said NAMA was "very, very satisfied with our decisions on London".

NAMA used British sales to fund its early bond repayments at a time when the Irish market was fragile, he said.

The agency is now actively selling here, with €4.5bn of its assets up for sale across the island of Ireland.

Irish Independent

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