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Sunday 11 December 2016

Nama treating developers like dirt, says furious Agar

NIAMH HORAN and NICK WEBB

Published 05/02/2012 | 05:00

ONE of Ireland's top property developers has launched an unprecedented attack on the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) and accused the State's 'bad bank' of treating developers "like a piece of dirt on their shoe".

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David Agar, who was behind the €340m Beacon Court scheme and Google's €75m state-of-the-art data centre, said he had decided to speak out because he believes "Nama will not be happy until every developer is banished from the country".

Mr Agar described himself as "emotionally frustrated" at the way in which the State agency is "driving developers into the ground".

The multi-millionaire property developer, against whom Nama has moved this week to take control of a "land-bank" development site with debts of €77m, said this weekend: "Nama is treating developers in a disgraceful manner.

"If they feel they are not capable of doing a good job, then why didn't they send in all the receivers on day one and have the show on the road by now?

"I am extremely frustrated and angry at how developers are being treated in this country. Nama will not be happy until every developer in this country is living in a three-bed semi-detached house and driving a Ford Cortina. And soon enough we will be able to pay for it out of our petty cash."

He went on: "Who are these people who thought we were experts at our jobs and now think we are a piece of dirt on their shoe? And how have the receivers suddenly become the new experts?

"I am emotionally frustrated at the way I have been treated. I have walked on water to prove a point to Nama and will continue to do so for the receiver.

"And I will continue to work with the receiver in every way possible while I am still in this country.

"But I predict that there will be no rise in the value of property in this country for at least 15 years.

"Nama is driving developers into the ground. It is sad to see such enterprising people being forced to go abroad for their skills to be appreciated, rather than encouraging them here, where they will be able to rebuild the country.

"Developers are being banished out of here in the name of the taxpayer. They are being forced and threatened into a state of silence but it is time to speak out. Nama will be proven to be the biggest mistake we ever made."

Nama has appointed Aiden Murphy, a partner at accountancy firm Horwath Bastow Charleton, as receiver over the assets of three companies linked to the developer: Dasnoc, Heratt and Sammark.

According to accounts filed with the Companies' Office, the firms have combined debts of around €77m following the purchase of greenfield development land in counties Dublin and Wicklow.

The land has not been developed, which means that realising value from the sites will be "slow and difficult", according to Mr Murphy.

Nama is understood to have become the main lender to the three firms after buying the debts from AIB, as part of the transfer of toxic debt to the State's bad bank.

Mr Agar was a major property player during the boom.

In addition to the sites now controlled by Nama, he was also behind the €340m Beacon Court scheme and the Profile Park industrial estate in south Dublin, home to Google's €75m state-of-the-art data centre.

He was also behind the single largest profit on a property development site in this country, bought from Bank Of Ireland for €13m and sold just 15 months later for €90m.

Unlike many of the new entrants who came unstuck through wildly speculative projects, Mr Agar had adopted a conservative business model and focussed on business and industrial park developments in the greater Dublin region.

Just before the economy hit the skids, he began to develop the hugely ambitious €1bn Profile Park business and trade park in Grangecastle in west Dublin. It is set to become Ireland's data cluster.

He was also instrumental in attracting investment from Google, with the search engine giant deciding to establish a €75m data centre in his South Dublin complex.

Major US technology group Digital Realty Trust is to expand its operations in Ireland at Agar's park. The move is seen as a collosal win for Ireland Inc, which is desperately trying to attract multinationals to these shores to help kickstart the economy and cut the lengthy dole queues.

Paying compliment to what he called "courageous" developers who he said have built "spectacular developments such as the Dundrum town centre and the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Mr Agar was keen to point out: "I have worked for free for three years for NAMA despite not having any personal guarantees on my loans."

Sunday Independent

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