Quinlan blazes a trail but what about leftover debt?
Published 22/09/2011 | 05:00
IT resembles a property version of a car boot sale. Disposals by developer Derek Quinlan have been brisk and substantial over the last 18 months with 14 separate transactions.
From villas in Cap Ferrat to townhouses in Manhattan, to period residences on leafy Shrewsbury Road, so far no other developer has engaged in such a high volume of transactions.
Watching the transactions getting done are two groups.
One is NAMA, which is believed to be happy with progress but wants yet more disposals, while another group is made up of investors who put money into many of Quinlan's boom-time property syndicates and are now nursing crippling losses.
They are watching to see does Quinlan finally emerge from the Irish property crash intact. Some would prefer this was not so. If other assets sell off at list prices, Quinlan's personal debts to NAMA could shrink below €150m. What then?
The Irish Glass Bottle site represents a portion of what is left behind. It won't be shifted in any form in the current market.
But if Quinlan has sold all other assets -- as per a sworn statement of affairs he provided the agency --what will NAMA then do?
Clearly other companies Quinlan is connected to could also cause a problem for the former tax inspector.
But either way, the Quinlan case highlights a core problem for NAMA -- what does the agency do once a borrower has disposed of all their major assets and a shortfall remains? Debt forgiveness is out, at least in a public sense. Instead a non-transparent write-off of debt is going to take place.
In that event Quinlan, while age may be against him, gets that mythical second chance which all developers crave.
For NAMA there is a cold commercial logic to it, but don't expect it to be popular.