| 14.1°C Dublin

NAMA sticks to guns as country lags behind in debt-clearing sales

THE National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) said yesterday it would not change its sales strategy despite new research which showed Ireland is lagging other countries when it comes to selling property to pay off government debt.

Research by property advisors CBRE has revealed that Ireland is well behind the likes of Sweden, Germany and the UK in terms of selling State-owned properties to clear debts.

CBRE said its research showed debt-laden countries such as Ireland and Greece must cut prices and establish more transparent sales programmes to boost the slow trickle of transactions to date. Last night a spokesman for NAMA dismissed the call for faster Irish sales.

The Irish bad bank has agreed property sales of €7bn since it was set up, he pointed out. However, a massive 80pc of those sales have been of assets outside Ireland.

NAMA's most high-profile Irish deal was its involvement in the €100m sale of a new Dublin headquarters to tech giant Google. It was a huge deal but a drop in the ocean given the billions managed by NAMA.

Sales in Ireland have been slow in particular because NAMA refuses to accept so called "low-ball offers" for assets.

The bad bank benchmarks the prices it is willing to take for Irish property against the 2009 prices it paid for loans backing the assets. That policy has led to questions about how it will sustain its disposal programme as its portfolio of non-Irish assets declines.

According to CBRE, European governments more than doubled real estate sales to €2.3bn last year. However, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland, the five nations most debilitated by the debt crisis, together accounted for less than 1pc of the total.

Irish Independent