Wednesday 22 January 2020

NAMA to retain 20pc stake in property portolio following Starwood deal

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

NAMA has accepted an offer that will see it paid less than 25c in the euro in its first major sale of a portfolio of loans backed by properties in Ireland, including Garda Headquarters on Harcourt Street.

Under the terms of the deal, NAMA retains a 20pc stake in the portfolio of property loans.

The deal means the loans were bought for less than one quarter of face value.

State-owned NAMA is understood to have agreed the terms to sell the portfolio dubbed Project Aspen to a consortium made up of US private-equity giant Starwood Capital, Ireland's Key Capital and London-based Catalyst Capital.

The consortium is being advised by developer David Courtney, who was the original borrower or part of the original borrower syndicate on the Aspen loans.

He is working for a fee and is not part of the bid so will not end up owning any of the properties following a sale, people involved said. Borrowers are banned from buying their own debts from NAMA.

The loans have a face value of €810m but are being sold for €200m.

A spokesman for NAMA declined to comment, however, sources close to the deal say it is now moving towards closing with the Starwood-led consortium as preferred bidder after edging out US bond giant Pimco.

The loans are linked to development projects put together by Mr Courtney of real-estate agency Spain, Courtney, Doyle.

He was a significant player in commercial property during the boom and Project Aspen is backed by a mix of offices and retail units.

Loans secured on Harcourt Street garda station in Dublin city centre are among the mix. The property is rented to the gardai.

There are also a number of Superquinn units in the mix.

Managed

Mr Courtney was part of a consortium that bought the Superquinn group for €450m back in 2005.

The company went into receivership in 2011 and was subsequently bought by Musgrave.

Project Aspen is the first domestic-loan portfolio to be sold by NAMA. It was put on the market in January, along with the smaller Project Club portfolio of loans with a face value of €350m

The sale of Project Aspen has been managed by US investment bank Eastdil Secured, a unit of US bank Wells Fargo.

Property advisers CBRE will run the Project Club sale.

NAMA expects to sell €3bn to €3.5bn of assets this year, as the agency moves ahead with the sale of two major portfolios of property loans.

Irish Independent

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