Wednesday 21 February 2018

Noonan met property lobbyists days before last Budget

Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan
Nick Webb

Nick Webb

Finance Minister Michael Noonan met key lobbyists from the property sector days before last December's Budget, which introduced major new measures to stimulate the market.

Noonan's appointment diary, which was released to the Sunday Independent under the Freedom of Information act, also reveals that an evening meeting was scheduled with construction lobby group Property Industry Ireland in the week before the December Budget.

Property Industry Ireland is chaired by former CRH and IDA head Kieron McGowan, with board members including Sherry Fitzgerald's Mark Fitzgerald and Nama developer Michael O'Flynn.

Last December's Budget saw moves to introduce real estate investment trusts, which give investors a vehicle to buy Irish commercial property at lower effective tax rates.

The Budget also saw special reliefs introduced for first time buyers in an attempt to kickstart the housing market. First-time buyers will be exempt from the local property tax until 2016.

Noonan's appointment diary also reveals a meeting scheduled with David Abrahams of Wall Street giant Apollo Global Management on March 14 this year.

This appointment is interesting as Abrahams is Apollo's senior manager for non-performing loan portfolios.

Irish banks are seeking to offload billions of euro in loan portfolios as they seek to rebuild battered balance sheets and return to profitability. The State owns AIB, Irish Life & Permanent, as well as a 15 per cent stake in Bank of Ireland. The diary also shows that the Finance Minister met Bank of Ireland and AIB representatives on February 28 this year.

Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Alan Dukes was also pencilled in to meet Noonan on two occasions, one in December 2012 and another on the morning of January 31 this year – a week before Anglo Irish bank was liquidated.

A Department of Finance spokesman said he was unable to comment on the meetings as the department had only received queries on them at 4.25pm on Friday and would not be able to provide a response before publication.

Irish Independent

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