Tuesday 24 October 2017

NAMA aims to share £500m from sale of iconic site at Battersea

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

PROPERTY

NAMA has put the UK's most important property development site on the market, with agents appointed to sell the 40-acre Battersea Power Station site in London.

Estimates in the industry vary but a sale could net as much as £500m (€600m) to be shared between NAMA and other lenders to the project -- Lloyd's Bank and property investor Victor Hwang.

The Battersea sale comes after the lenders had Ernst & Young appointed as administrator to the company.

They took control of the site from former owner Real Estate Opportunities (REO), a company controlled by developers Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett.

REO was nudged out after admitting it could not repay £502m of outstanding loans.

Yesterday, the administrators hired estate agent Knight Frank, best known in this country for selling lavish country estates, and Ernst & Young's property team to find a buyer for the site.

The sale process will be closely watched in the UK where Battersea Power Station has iconic status.

The site comes with planning permission for 8 million square feet of development, making it the biggest development site of its kind in London.

There is planning approval to build 3,400 homes, a commercial and retail centre and even a new Tube station and connection.

Russian billionaire and Chelsea Football Club owner, Roman Abramovich, is thought to be interested. Any buyer will need deep pockets, with development to cost a multiple of the sale price.

Meanwhile, some of NAMA's smaller borrowers are now being asked to provide detailed financial information to the bad bank, including the handing over of personal tax returns.

This is part of NAMA's due diligence process to assess the full extent of borrowers assets.

A spokesman for the agency said the request for financial information -- including tax returns -- was standard practice in the banking industry.

Those with the biggest debts were asked for the same information months ago, a source said.

Request

A spokesman for NAMA confirmed to this newspaper that it had no powers to get information regarding borrowers directly from the Revenue Comm- issioners -- after the European Competition Authority blocked a request to be allowed to do so.

However, he said NAMA could insist on borrowers providing the details themselves.

If they refused, NAMA could call in their loans for repayment and block new lending or loan extensions.

The move comes as NAMA is making a number of management changes, the first since a report into its operations by former HSBC boss Mike Geoghegan.

Yesterday, it said it would not appoint a new head of lending to replace the departing Graham Emmett, a former Goldman Sachs banker. He stepped down from the toxic debt agency last week by "mutual agreement" with management last week.

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