Sunday 17 December 2017

State's stake in NAMA not affected by AIB IM sale

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The state's dangerously high shareholding in NAMA will not be affected by yesterday's sale of AIB Investment Managers (AIB IM) to South African investor Prescient.

AIB IM manages one of three 17pc stakes in the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) that the government sold to private investors under a scheme to stop European institution treating NAMA's borrowing of around €30bn as part of the national debt.

Ireland's debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio is among the highest in the eurozone and any increase in the official figures would hurt our credibility with international investors.

To prevent that 51pc of NAMA was sold to private investors -- with 17pc each going to AIB IM's private clients, Bank of Ireland Asset Managers clients and Irish Life & Permanent.

Nationalisation of IL&P earlier this year threatened to scupper the scheme, by taking the state's holding in NAMA back over 50pc.

In April, Eurostat -- the body that monitors national finances across Europe -- warned Ireland to reduce the NAMA stake, or see official figures for the national debt surge.

On April 24, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said he had found a buyer for IL&P's NAMA stake, which is now owned by the Government. At the time he said the name of the new owner would be announced "within weeks", once the transaction was complete.

Yesterday a spokesman for the minister said that deal has not yet closed, and that the buyer still cannot be revealed.

However, he said the deal remained on course and an announcement was said to be imminent.

Meanwhile it became clear following the sale of AIB IM yesterday that the NAMA stake was owned by clients of the bank, not the bank itself, and a government spokesman confirmed this.

That means the pressure is still on to close the IL&P sale.

Irish Independent

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