Sunday 25 February 2018

Nama set to dispose of O'Callaghan's loans

Nama had initially intended to complete the Project Lee sale in 2015, but legal complications caused a lengthy delay. (Stock picture)
Nama had initially intended to complete the Project Lee sale in 2015, but legal complications caused a lengthy delay. (Stock picture)

Gretchen Friemann

The National Asset Management Agency (Nama) is expected to pull the trigger on a long-awaited sale of loans tied to the late developer Owen O'Callaghan by August at the earliest, according to sources familiar with the matter.

While there had been speculation earlier in the year of an auction in May or June, the Irish Independent understands Nama has set its sights on a transaction in the third quarter.

The impaired mortgages, tethered to commercial properties in Cork and bundled into a portfolio dubbed 'Project Lee', have a face value of close to €250m.

Mr O'Callaghan - one of boom-time Ireland's most prolific retail park developers - died earlier this year after a short illness. He was one of a handful of developers who emerged from the crash with his real estate empire largely intact after just a fraction of his loans passed into the control of the State's bad bank.

Nama had initially intended to complete the Project Lee sale in 2015, but legal complications caused a lengthy delay.

The renewed preparations come as commercial property valuations continue to soar, boosted by Ireland's continued economic expansion which shows little sign of fading.

Project Lee's impending launch follows AIB's disposal in April of a portfolio of impaired buy-to-let mortgages, which had a face value of €400m.

The completion of the deal, known as Project Cypress, has prompted expectations of further portfolio sales as the banks attempt to rid their balance sheets of legacy debts accumulated in the boom years.

It is understood the Project Lee loans are linked to Cork commercial and retail units including the Mahon Retail Park in Mallow.

Irish Independent

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