Business Irish

Thursday 26 April 2018

Firms fight to advise PTSB on €1bn sale

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Gretchen Friemann

A number of investment banks and accountancy firms have pitched for an advisory role on a €1bn-plus portfolio of distressed buy-to-let mortgages from Permanent TSB, as the State-backed lender attempts to tackle its ballooning book of non-performing loans (NPLs).

Sources said a beauty parade was held last week. However the bank has yet to nominate an adviser - a decision is expected early next month.

PTSB has come under increasing pressure to reduce its soured debts exposure after its annual results revealed the total volume of NPLs remained at the same level as last year.

Speaking to analysts last month, CEO Jeremy Masding pledged to reduce the stock of troubled loans to single digits in the medium term.

However the lack of progress on the NPLs helped drive the bank's shares into a tailspin, sending the stock down by 24pc in the weeks post the results.

The Irish Independent reported in July that the bank was likely to accelerate plans to flog its most distressed loans.

Last month it emerged PTSB had written to various advisory firms, inviting them to pitch for a role on a portfolio sale.

While last week's beauty parade signals the bank is pushing ahead with the sales process, it comes as international investors prepare to return to Irish shores after a lengthy hiatus with just two relatively small deals completed so far this year.

In April AIB sold a bundle of buy-to-let mortgages to Goldman Sachs for €200m, half the portfolio's face value.

The bank is readying a far larger portfolio sale, dubbed Project Redwood, that is expected to top €2bn.

It is understood AIB is considering formally marketing the portfolio later this year.

While it is unclear whether PTSB will also launch before Christmas, sources said the advent of deals will help "recreate a market" in distressed debt in Ireland.

The bank's advance towards a loan sale are also likely to cheer shareholders, although concerns about the scale of the haircut or the discount on the loans has fed investor anxiety.

At the results, Mr Masding stressed that over half of PTSB's €5.78bn of non-performing loans are in some form of long-term restructuring or forbearance arrangement.

But while management have insisted they will resolve the NPLs problem, their reassurances have not halted an exodus from the register in recent months.

Janus Capital Management ditched its 3.7pc holding at the end of May. The firm ranked as the largest private investor in the bank. US funds behemoth, Capital Group, is now the biggest shareholder aside from the Government - the group also holds the same position in Bank of Ireland after overtaking BlackRock on the register.

Irish Independent

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