Monday 24 October 2016

Nama stonewalls on claim it ignored Project Eagle bidder

Published 02/10/2016 | 02:30

Nama's chief executive Brendan McDonagh
Nama's chief executive Brendan McDonagh

Nama has pointedly refused to answer a claim that it failed to engage sufficiently with Fortress, the sole underbidder for its €5.6bn par value Northern Ireland loan book in an effort to secure more than the €1.6bn it ultimately achieved by selling to Cerberus.

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On Friday September 16, Nama sought to downplay Fortress's interest in acquiring the 'Project Eagle' portfolio by releasing an email sent on April 2, 2014, by the company's managing director, Mike George, to Nama CEO Brendan McDonagh following the submission of its initial bid.

In that email, George said: "I'm sure you know that I'd love to do this transaction," adding: "If you don't hit your reserve (price), we'd like to continue discussions with you either for the whole thing or some subset of it… I think with a little more time I can get my Fortress people more comfortable".

In a statement accompanying its release of the email, a spokesman for Nama said George's email to McDonagh made it "clear that" Fortress was unwilling to pay Nama's minimum price, which was exceeded by Cerberus, and that it was only willing to buy the Eagle portfolio if Nama failed to get its minimum price.

A source with knowledge of the matter rejected Nama's interpretation, telling the Sunday Independent that Mike George wanted to remain involved in the bidding but had received no further contact from Brendan McDonagh or anyone in Nama following Fortress' submission of its bid.

"If it was a truly competitive bidding process, you would at least have expected Nama to go back to Fortress to say, 'You need to increase your offer to stay involved here.' That didn't happen," the source claimed.

While the Sunday Independent submitted a series of questions to Nama in relation to this claim on Friday September 16 and 23 last, no response or even acknowledgement was forthcoming.

Informed last Friday that an article would be published in relation to this today, a spokesman for Nama said: "Nama will not be responding to the queries you submitted."

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