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NAMA to make crunch decision on McKillen's loans within weeks

Ireland's bad bank has been awaiting the outcome of the Paddy McKillen Supreme Court challenge to deal with the transfer of €5bn worth of loans and will now proceed with bringing them into NAMA.

The agency's board will make a decision on whether it will acquire Mr McKillen's €2.1bn of loans in the next two to three weeks. It could simply decide to re-make the original decision taken by its interim board -- before NAMA was set up in December 2009 -- to transfer these loans to NAMA.

Mr McKillen's lawyers have indicated they may then mount a new legal challenge to any new decision by NAMA -- so this may run for a while yet.

And while this legal battle is set to rumble on, NAMA is now satisfied that it can immediately begin to transfer the remaining €3bn loans that have been suspended until the case was resolved.

This tranche includes about 30 to 40 loans, ranging in size from between €60m to €70m. Many of these loans are understood to be attached to property both in the UK and in Ireland.

Loans parked

The bad bank had effectively parked these loans pending the outcome of the McKillen challenge because the banks that issued them have challenged their transfer into NAMA.

Sources say that some of these loans are being repaid and have a reasonably good prospect of yielding a return for the financial institutions if left with them for the longer term.

They also feel they can successfully deal with others that may be in some difficulty at the moment.

These banks would prefer to hold onto them rather than see them transferred, at a discount of more than 40pc to NAMA, and have questioned whether they are eligible to go to the bad bank.

The banks' challenge will automatically go to an independent review process, rather than to the courts, which will take a few weeks to reach a decision. If it decides in favour of NAMA the loans in question will be immediately transferred. NAMA says it took the view that it was "prudent" not to rush these transfers ahead of the McKillen case and we will have to await the outcome of this review process to see whether the ruling has any implications.

So far NAMA has acquired €71.2bn in loans for €30.2bn.

A number of developers have also been closely watching Mr McKillen's court battle to gauge whether they may be able to challenge the basis on which NAMA took over their loans, and the consequences for the business as a result.

So far, none have followed McKillen into court to challenge the process, but his surprise victory could open the floodgates to others to claim NAMA's actions were invalid.

The Construction Industry Federation has said it is studying the ruling to see the implications for its members, while some developers have welcomed the fact that this case has allowed NAMA's extraordinary powers to be scrutinised.

NAMA claims the judgment only relates to Mr McKillen.

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