Tuesday 10 December 2019

So what does this announcement actually mean?

• SO NAMA needs more money?

No, far from it. NAMA is sitting on a huge cash pile, around €4.3bn at the last count.

Yesterday's announcement was the agency saying it will put a portion of that money to work on construction projects that have been idle since the sector shut down in 2009.

That would boost the overall recovery on NAMA's €32bn of property assets.

• How does NAMA "put money to work?"

By lending it to developers.

• You're kidding?

No, NAMA is not a construction firm, it's planning on working more like a bank. There's a lengthy process involved but, in a nutshell, developers whose loans are in NAMA, and receivers who are in control of NAMA sites, can go to the agency and pitch for cash.

• That sounds like a bailout for builders.

The new loans will only be made to developers who are cooperating with NAMA, including the ones it thinks are playing ball on repaying debt and handing over assets.

NAMA is hoping it can "accumulate" by speculating. If it backs the right builders on good projects it will be able maximise its recovery, instead of selling half-built sites at low ball prices.

• What sites?

A mix, but mainly city developments, and mostly offices and commercial. We know that the IDA and others are piling pressure on NAMA to develop at least one major -- very major -- high- spec office in, or around, the Dublin docks. International firms like Facebook and Bank of New York Mellon are on the hunt for the kind of office that can comfortably take 4,000 staff.

NAMA is panning to invest an average of €500m per year, aside from the very big ones it means 20 or so good- size commercial projects per year. We know that NAMA is lending €13m to the Bailey Brothers to finish Charlestown, a shopping- centre complex on the edge of Dublin, just off the M50.

In south Co Dublin, NAMA is lending €10m to a receiver who wants to turn a nine- storey steel building skeleton into 80 or so high-end apartments at Beacon South.

• So can the builders come home from Australia?

Maybe a few less can go -- job creation is not a core aim for NAMA. The figure of 35,000 jobs being bandied about is a wishful thinking. An optimistic estimate would be for around 7,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Donal O'Donovan

Indo Business

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