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NAMA behind tough line taken with debtors as it plays the waiting game

Last night's High Court ruling to block McInerney from writing off its debts is a victory for banks that are taking an increasingly tough line with delinquent borrowers.

NAMA's role behind the scenes means the McInerney case will also be seen at home and abroad as a bellwether of the bad bank's attitude to writing off debt.

In fact, most observers believe NAMA is the driving force behind Bank of Ireland and Anglo Irish Bank's decision to reject the debt restructuring proposed by McInerney and Oaktree.

McInerney itself has long been of the opinion that the bad bank was instrumental in cutting its access to bank debt last August. NAMA has been seen to take a tough line with debtors in recent months, notably with Bernard McNamara when it forced his companies into receivership by rejecting a business plan NAMA viewed as unrealistic.

While many will welcome a tough line with developers, many sources in the market argue that deals like the one proposed by Oaktree and McInerney would help restart the property market.

They argue such deals could establish new benchmarks for asset values and allow lenders and borrowers to move on from past mistakes.

However, NAMA, and the banks whose loans it holds, remain committed to the concept of "long-term value" and are prepared to fight for control of assets that may see a recovery in value.

In practice, NAMA is kicking the question of the real value of McInerney's property down the road for up to 10 years rather than crystalising losses by accepting low ball valuations today. Forgiving unpaid debt from the likes of McInerney may be just too politically unpalatable for the taxpayer-backed fund.

Irish Independent