Thursday 29 September 2016

The Punt: Nama might be missing a trick

Published 15/03/2016 | 02:30

Nama's chief executive Brendan McDonagh
Nama's chief executive Brendan McDonagh
Donald Trump

US fund managers that swooped in to feast on the carcass of the Irish crash have been getting it in the neck lately, for reaping big bucks by exiting Irish investments.

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So in a way its nice to see that Ireland isn't unique in having been being picked over with ruthless efficiency by the lords of Wall Street.

Blackstone, no stranger to these shores, is in the process of setting a speed record for exiting a major corporate trade after agreeing the $6.5bn sale of Strategic Hotels yesterday.

It is selling the US hotel chain to China's Anbang Insurance just three months after completing the acquisition.

The sale price is a healthy $450m more than Blackstone paid, Bloomberg reported yesterday.

Somewhat unbelievably, Strategic Hotels put itself on the market last summer shortly after buying New York's famous Waldorf-Astoria hotel for $1.95bn, from, eh, Blackstone.

Mind you the deals do suggest the possibility that Ireland may have been barking up the wrong foreign direct investment (FDI) tree all these years.

American capitalists are notoriously value oriented.

Anbang's willingness, eagerness even, to part with the readies, suggests to the Punt that we've been missing a trick.

Nama boss Brendan McDonagh might be better off calling Beijing next time he wants to offload a portfolio, the Chinese certainly seem happy to pay.

The Fed doesn't love Donald Trump

Poor Donald. He might have been able to persuade a sizeable number of Americans to back him for the nomination, but he doesn't seem to have swayed those in the Federal Reserve.

According to Bloomberg, Trump (pictured), who accused Fed Chair Janet Yellen of keeping interest rates low as a favour to President Obama, hasn't collected a single donation from Fed employees, according to a review of Federal Election Commission data.

Senator Ted Cruz has received $2,000, while Senator Marco Rubio has taken in $750. Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate, has received $18,239.

Twelve years of data show more than $435,000 in donations from Fed staffers, which skewed heavily to Democrats well before this election cycle, have shifted even more firmly in that direction in the 2016 campaign.

Contributions to Republicans have dropped to $6,500 from $23,151. The partisan preference has grown stronger since the 2012 presidential election.

Given Trump's sizeable bank balance, it's doubtful he cares.

Bakery needs to earn its dough

When Applegreen revealed last year that UK bakery chain Greggs was poised to open its first ever outlet in the Republic of Ireland by the end of 2015, or the start of 2016, there was gleeful pandemonium on Twitter.

Aficionados of Greggs' sausage rolls and assorted other pastries were beside themselves that they would soon be able to gorge on the, delicacies. Applegreen had hoped to open it at a service area in north Dublin.

Applegreen had already opened a Greggs at its first motorway service area in Northern Ireland, and it was doing extremely well. Applegreen has partnered up with other food service firms such as Subway, Costa and Burger King at its successful forecourts as it expands in Ireland and the UK.

But alas, the Greggs lovers will have to snack a on a banana for now to keep their hunger at bay.

Applegreen chief operating officer Joe Barrett told the Punt yesterday the company remains in talks with Greggs over the plans for the Republic of Ireland.

"Because of the exchange rate and things like that, we're not quite there yet," he said. "The bottom line is that we need to make money and they need to make money, and at the moment we're still in those discussions." He added that it's "too early to say" if it will go ahead.

Irish Independent

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