Business Irish

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Pay bonanza at Cerberus firm that manages Project Eagle

Eight staff shared £40m in first year after controversial deal to buy Nama's portfolio

Published 25/09/2016 | 02:30

Frank Cushnahan
Frank Cushnahan

Pay packages for senior staff at the Cerberus firm responsible for managing Project Eagle soared 49pc last year, in the first full year of its ownership of the portfolio.

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Eight staff at Cerberus European Capital Advisors Limited Liability Partnership (CECA) shared a pot of Stg£39.56m (€45.7m) in the year ending December 31, 2015, an average of £4.95m, accounts filed in the UK Companies Office reveal.

The packages comprise salaries, bonuses, performance-based shares of profit and carried interest awards.

The figures are revealed in a section of the accounts where the company is obliged to disclose the pay of staff who were deemed to have "a material impact on the risk profile of the firm" in the year in question.

In 2014, six senior CECA staff shared a pot of £19,952,923 - an average of £3.33m.

Cerberus's website lists the entity's chief executive as Northern Irishman Liam Strong, who is also listed as Head of Cerberus Operations Europe.

A Cerberus spokesman confirmed that CECA is responsible for managing Project Eagle, one of a number of major European loan portfolios Cerberus has acquired since the beginning of 2014.

Cerberus's purchase of the portfolio has been dogged by controversy ranging from allegations that a "fixer's fee" was to be paid to former Nama Northern Ireland Advisory Committee member Frank Cushnahan, to a Comptroller & Auditor General report that said Nama could have got more money for the loans in question.

Nama, Cerberus and Cushnahan have consistently denied any wrongdoing in relation to the deal.

Strong sent a Cerberus submission to the Northern Ireland Assembly's Finance Committee, saying it was "satisfied that no improper or illegal payments have been made by Cerberus or any of its affiliates in connection with the Project Eagle portfolio".

In a statement to the Public Accounts Committee last October, Nama chairman Frank Daly said there was no certainty that Cerberus would achieve its projected profit from purchasing Project Eagle.

Citing data given by Cerberus to the Northern Ireland Finance Committee, he added: "On the assumption that funding, loan servicing and other costs will amount to 8pc over an assumed workout period of 30 months, Cerberus would be left with a profit of about 7pc-8pc."

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