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NAMA on brink of €300m sale in Grosvenor Square

NAMA is believed to be on the brink of its largest sale to date, as it tries to complete the disposal of a building in the affluent Grosvenor Square area of London for €300m.

The building, at 20 Grosvenor Square, was the headquarters for Dwight Eisenhower during World War II and is near the US Embassy building in the same area.

The loan on the building was originally advanced by Michael Fingleton's Irish Nationwide, but was taken over by NAMA last year.

The building is reported to be owned by UK restaurateur and businessman Richard Caring, who is most associated in the UK with restaurants like Le Caprice. The sale has not concluded yet, but could be done within weeks, it is understood.

NAMA's most recent success in the sales area was when Treasury Holdings sold its Montevetro building in Dublin to Google. While the sale was executed by Treasury, NAMA was centrally involved in the sale, which will reduce the debt levels at Treasury. It is not known what kind of discount, or 'haircut' was applied to the loan for the Grosvenor Square property.

Irish Nationwide has taken severe discounts on loans NAMA has taken over.

In the summer it emerged that NAMA was discounting the loans by 72pc, the most severe haircut of all.

Meanwhile, NAMA said it will not "hoard assets longer than is necessary'' in Northern Ireland, where it now controls more than €4bn of loans.

The agency said it would be able to take a longer view of the property market than many other players and would provide liquidity in the Northern market.

NAMA is managing the loans of 180 borrowers in total, with the loans worth €4bn at book value.

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The presence of development land in the Northern Ireland portfolio is considerable -- €2.4bn. Just under one-third of the portfolio is located in Belfast, with 21pc in Down and 19pc in Antrim.

"We will work with debtors if it makes commercial sense, but debtors must submit a (realistic) business plan,'' Ronnie Hanna, NAMA's head of risk, told the Northern Ireland housing sector conference in Belfast.

"Our timeframe is to manage and realise the loans and property held as collateral for the loans over a seven- to 10-year time period,'' he said

NAMA has been criticised in several quarters for not selling more assets and allowing the housing and commercial property markets to fall.

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