Monday 23 October 2017

Sunderland FC owner Short raising €1bn for Irish bank assets

Irish passport holder targets distressed loans

NOT KEANE ON ROY: Ellis Short is owner of Sunderland FC
NOT KEANE ON ROY: Ellis Short is owner of Sunderland FC

Roisin Burke

ELLIS Short, the billionaire owner of Premiership football club Sunderland FC – an Irish passport holder – is raising €1bn to buy distressed loans and assets coming to the market here.

Kildare Partners, the Lone Star fund founder's first foray back into private equity in five years, aspires to complete a debut Irish deal by early 2014.

Short's fund is targeting commercial and residential property buys here on a major scale. A sizeable chunk of its firepower is trained on buying Nama, IBRC and other distressed property loans and assets here.

Best known outside of the business arena as the man who fired Roy Keane at Sunderland Football Club, Short is an Irish passport holder and has been looking at plays in Ireland for some time. He has close links to Ireland and a €2m home in Michael Smurfit's Kildare Club.

No other Irish investor money is involved in Kildare at present.

While the aim is to buy across Europe, the early stage focus will be Ireland and Britain, the two territories where the partners involved have most experience.

The Irish office is in the process of being set up, headed by former Investec director and EBS Finance boss Emer Finnan, who was handpicked for the job by Short. Around half a dozen people will be recruited for the Dublin office, it's understood.

It will see it come into direct competition with Lone Star, the gigantic fund Short was once associated with, as Kildare goes up against it and other massive bidders like Apollo and Patron. Lone Star bought a €675m face- value AIB portfolio last year.

Finnan is a partner in the fund, which is headquartered in London, as well as MD of the Irish office.

Kildare Partners has already met with Nama, the IBRC and other Irish market distressed- loan-selling banks.

Nama is expected to bring another Project Aspen-calibre loan book to market pre-Christmas, some sources say. Aspen, an €800m face-value book, was sold earlier this year.

The IBRC liquidators are to sell what they can of its loans this year. Data rooms for its property loan books have yet to open.

Nama's Project Club – a €230m book of loans related to developer Eamonn Duignan – is now live again and loans related to Cork developer Michael O'Flynn are tipped to be sold soon.

Bank of Ireland is in the process of selling loans related to its British business banking and corporate banking activities there, the bank confirmed.

Distressed loan sale processes from AIB, Permanent TSB, Ulster Bank, Lloyds, Danske and KBC are likely in the near term.

From Independence, Missouri, originally, Short was a principal of Lone Star, which he and Texan Irish moneybags John Grayken built into a €25bn force. He exited it in 2007.

Low-profile and publicity averse, Short is based in Dallas, Texas.

Sunday Independent

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