Monday 21 October 2019

Where do they stand in payment line?

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The next steps for Anglo Irish Bondholders are outlined.

Q Are Anglo Irish Bondholders going to get another €280m?

A The bad news is that they might, at least they might get some of it.

The good news is that is that the bondholders will only get a cent if taxpayers get €1.1bn from the bust bank first.

Q Why are we talking about paying any money to Anglo Irish Bank bondholders, wasn't the bank shut down?

A The former Anglo Irish Bank was put into liquidation almost two years ago.

The banks' assets - basically business loans and mortgages - were sold off to the highest bidder and as part of the same process the money raised from the sell off has to be used to pay off the bank's debts.

Importantly there is a fixed hierarchy setting out which creditors get paid first, based on what is referred to as the seniority of their claim.

So called "junior bondholders" are last in that line to be repaid.

It's worth noting that the reason we are having this conversation at all is because Nama, which had the highest ranked claim is getting paid in full, which was not expected originally.

Q So who does get paid?

A After the liquidation IBRC's main debt was €12.9bn owed by the bank to Nama. The money was originally owed to the Central Bank and linked to the notorious Promissory Note.

As part of the shut down State owned Nama got a mortgage that put it at the head of the queue as the most senior "secured" creditors of IBRC. It gets the lion's share of the liquidation.

Unfortunately, Nama takes the money it gets from IBRC and pays it over to the Central Bank.

Q And who is next?

A The way the system works, the most senior creditors get paid first, and only when they have been repaid fully does money start to flow to the next best ranked creditor.

After Nama comes the relatively small amounts owed to the Revenue Commissioners and staff who lost pay and their jobs when the bank went into liquidation have the next best claim. It is understood they will get all they are owed too.

Money then start to flow to the next ranked creditors - known as the unsecureds. The biggest known unsecured creditor is the State. Under the terms of the bank guarantee the Government paid out €1.1bn in compensation to investors who were left out of pocket when IBRC was placed into liquidation. It looks like at least some of that cash is now going to be clawed back.

The current estimate is that the money owed to the State is about 70pc of the total pool of unsecured creditors.

Also in the mix with claims are 120 people and companies who were suing IBRC at the time it was shut down. Those cases that are slowly working their way through the courts and in some cases it will be years before the outcomes are clear.

Money is likely to be set aside to deal with those eventualities.

There are also 16 credit unions that invested funds with the old Anglo and were initially left empty-handed when the bank was liquidated. A number of local authorities are also owed money by the bank, linked to bonds and guarantees connected to boom era building scheme.

Ordinary suppliers of IBRC, such as accountants and lawyers who worked for the bank, and companies that provided the likes of cleaning and food services will all also have to be paid out of this same "unsecured creditors" pot.

Because each of these bills has the same rank they'll get paid in the same proportion. If one unsecured creditor gets 100 cents in the euro they all do, and equally if one gets 30 cents in the euro they all get the same.

Q And the junior bondholders?

A Once all of the other claims have been assessed and met any money left will then flow to the final set of creditors, the junior or more properly subordinated bondholders, owed €280m.

These are funds who took a bet three years ago by challenging Government effort to "burn" them by forcing them to take losses.

One fund, German bondholder Assenagon Asset Management won a case at the High Court in London, which basically means it is entitled to be repaid in full - if there is money left at the former Anglo Irish Bank.

While they rank below all other creditors, these bondholders do rank above the €30bn used by the State to bail out Anglo Irish Bank.

Legally, as owners of the nationalised bank, taxpayers won't claw any of the really big bailout money back until and unless all other creditors including bondholders are paid first.

That is highly unlikley.

Irish Independent

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