independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Some of the jewels plucked from NAMA's crown

An artist's impression of Battersea Power Station redevelopment
An artist's impression of Battersea Power Station redevelopment

FACED with the task of having to repay €7.5m in Nama bonds by the end of 2013, officials at the State's 'bad bank' set about selling its most prized assets.

As one senior Nama source told the Sunday Independent last week: "It was 2010 and it was 2011 and we had to repay €7.5bn in Nama bonds by the end of 2013. It's on the public record.

"We had a target to repay those bonds within three years.

"Where the hell were we going to get the money from? So we looked at who had the best assets and we said 'let's sell those'."

So Nama went looking for the proverbial family silver and sold it off at a time when the credit which drives and supports property prices was all but absent.

The most valuable jewels in Nama's crown included:

Battersea Power Station

Widely held as London's most exciting development opportunity in decades, and it was the dream of Treasury Holdings' chiefs Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett to finally bring it to fruition.

But when their companies' debts went into Nama, that dream came to an end and the agency along with the Treasury duo's other lender, Lloyd Banking Group, appointed administrators with a view to recovering the project's combined £502m (€599m) debt.

Ultimately, the site was sold to a Malaysian consortium headed by SP Setia, Sime Darby and EPF, for a reported £400m (€477m).

The identity of the buyer proved to be bitterly ironic for Messrs Ronan and Barrett given that they themselves had very nearly agreed a deal with SP Setia and Sime Darby to sell Battersea before their loans were called in by Nama.

Claridge's, the Berkeley and the Connaught

ThE iconic hotels were acquired at the height of the boom by an Irish consortium led by financier Derek Quinlan and property tycoon Paddy McKillen; the establishment of Nama saw a massive portion of the debt behind them being transferred to the agency. In 2011, Nama sold those loans which underpin Mr Quinlan's shareholding for €800m to the Barclay brothers, who are Mr McKiillen's rivals for control of the London landmarks.

Irish Independent

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