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Thursday 18 September 2014

Wind-up of IBRC could cost State new billions

Appointment of special liquidator likely to depress bank's loan book

Ronald Quinlan, Jerome Reilly and Daniel McConneLl

Published 10/02/2013 | 04:00

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BLOWING THE WHISTLE: When this little girl is 45 the Anglo Irish Bank debt will be paid… so yesterday Sophie Hawkins, 5, from Kilmeaden, Co Waterford, joined the tens of thousands of people who took part in anti-austerity protests around the country.

The promissory note deal has failed to quell public anger at the bank debt burden on citizens - more than 100,000 of whom took to the streets in protest yesterday.

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Public dismay will be compounded by a Sunday Independent revelation today that the liquidation of IBRC could end up costing the taxpayer billions of euro this year.

Senior sources with an intimate knowledge of the IBRC's affairs say that the appointment of a special liquidator to the bank could have the effect of immediately depressing the value of its €15bn loan book.

It is believed that the special liquidator will put the entire loan book up for a speedy sale.

Massive discounts may have to be applied to attract buyers for less attractive loans and assets.

These heavily discounted sales would have the effect of immediately crystallising losses for the taxpayer which could run into hundreds of millions and potentially billions of euro.

It has also emerged that the €1bn benefit of securing the promissory note deal this year will be largely lost to repay senior bondholders, who were guaranteed by the State.

analysis Pages 5, 25-28 & BUSINESS SECTION

According to figures published by the Department of Finance, a €750m payout to the last of the senior bondholders at IBRC who were originally due to be paid in 2015, will cost €1bn when transaction charges are added.

An unprecedented sell-off of loans relating to some of the country's richest businessmen and best-known companies will begin from July 1 this year.

This is expected to trigger huge corporate activity involving the bank's biggest borrowers who will have to refinance their loans themselves or see them sold on to private equity houses, sovereign wealth funds and investment banks.

Certain borrowers may also seek to exploit the situation by attempting to acquire their loans at a discount.

Some of the most attractive loans in the portfolio are the performing loans of property investor Paddy McKillen, Davy stockbrokers, the country's biggest stockbroker, and billionaire Denis O'Brien and his companies.

Sizeable loans related to the Whitfield Hospital in Waterford, McCabe Pharmacies, Topaz and staff who own a chunk of Aer Lingus are also expected to be placed on the market.

The sell-off will also see high-profile smaller borrowers from Anglo or Irish Nationwide like politicians Michael Lowry and Phil Hogan, and Gay Byrne, the former Late Late Show presenter, impacted as their property loans are either sold off in the weeks after July or go into Nama.

While the outcome of the IBRC loan sales process and its potential implications for the taxpayer remains to be seen, there will be massive anger from the public should any of the high-profile legal actions being pursued by the IBRC flounder as a consequence of the bank's liquidation last week.

The Sunday Independent has established from impeccable sources that Richard Woodhouse, the senior IBRC executive responsible for heading up the bank's case against the Quinn family, has had his contract terminated.

ICTU General Secretary David Begg told a protest in Dublin's Merrion Square that the bank debt problem had not been solved by last week's promissory note deal.

He vowed the bank debt campaign would continue until the link between private bank debt and national debt was clearly broken.

He told protesters: "New deal, same problem: 1.8 million people cannot possibly pay of a bank debt burden of €64bn, especially a debt they played no part in running up. There is nothing fair about this deal.

"We saved the European banking system in 2008, an act of extraordinary solidarity with Europe – now we want some solidarity in return," Mr Begg said.

He pointed out that Ireland had already paid some €41bn for the banking crisis, more than Germany, the UK, Spain or Portugal.

"So far, every Irish person has paid €9,000, while the average across the EU is €192. That is neither fair nor just," he said.

Irish Independent

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