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Nama developer is top bidder for his own former assets

One of Nama's big debtors is part of a move to buy Project Aspen, the €810m portfolio made up of his own debt.

David Courtney, a top Nama client, has teamed up with US investment firm Starwood and local finance house Key Capital to bid for the loan book.

Starwood is believed to be fronting the money.

Courtney is understood to have approached Key Capital, which in turn brought global player Starwood into the competition.

The biggest Nama portfolio to hit the market to date, Aspen attracted intense interst from a range of international bidders.

Now two final frontrunners have emerged: Courtney's team and one other.

The other top rival is Pimco, the world's biggest bond fund. Pimco's exclusive partner for its Irish activities is Avestus Capital, an asset managment group whose activities include looking after Quinlan Private legacy loans.

Headed by Olan Cremin and involving several former top Quinlan people, Avestus has been a discreetly active bidder on bank loan books and real estate since August last.

Pimco is the major money party with Avestus, thought to be bringing some funds through its high net worth investor clients.

The final bidding round was handled at Nama by ex-Irish Nationwide executive Declan Ballance and the winner will be known in about a week.

The Starwood and Pimco bids are coming in at €185m-€190m. The recent Bewleys judgement and due diligence could peel back the price to €170m, or a swingeing discount of 20c in the euro.

A €1bn Lloyds portfolio is to come to market in the next month, with 13 loan books expected to come to market this year, from Lloyds, KBC and Danske as well as Nama.

London billionaire tycoons Reuben Brothers were major Aspen bid rivals and met the high bid level but withdrew. They are chasing another Nama property, a prime €284m valued London block linked to Annabel's nightclub owner Richard Caring.

David Courtney didn't respond to emails or attempts to contact him on Friday. Nama declined to comment, as did various bidders.

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