Wednesday 21 March 2018

Developer: I feel sorry for Anglo but it must be closed

Anita Guidera

ONE of the biggest developers to have loans taken over by NAMA yesterday called for the agency to be turned into a fully-fledged property bank.

Flamboyant property developer, Paddy Kelly (66), also described Anglo Irish as a failed bank which should be closed and said the Irish public should not be expected to pay for the mistakes of others.

Mr Kelly, whose worth at the height of the boom was an estimated €350m, now has debts of at least the same amount. His family owes around €800m.

He told the MacGill Summer School yesterday that capitalising the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA) would create "a win-win situation".

Mr Kelly said it should be fully capitalised, which would mean pumping billions into the agency in order to meet strict EU financial regulations.

"I would like to see NAMA becoming a fully fledged property bank, properly capitalised. I think all it would need would be five billion euro.

"I would like to see it becoming a first-class bank, with international investors with a very pro-active mindset, creating this win-win situation with the developers.

"Get rid of it. Don't have it as a liability. Let the international community come in and fund it properly."

He told bemused delegates that he had enjoyed "a special relationship" with Anglo Irish Bank, which, he said, had stopped lending before other large banks.

While admitting he felt sorry for "the fall-guy" that was Anglo, he said that at this stage the bank no longer existed.

"Close it down. It has failed as an institution. Merge the business; transfer the loans.

"Do the same with Irish Nationwide. EBS, merge it with Irish Permanent. Tidy up the game. These are small banks."

He said that €50bn invested in small businesses in Ireland would "sort out the problem" and described the blanket bank guarantee by the Government as "simply stupid".

Mr Kelly, who has property interests in Ireland and overseas, including Canada and Malta, dismissed the Government's argument that it was the only way as "a nonsense".

"All they have done now is put more liability on the system. The guarantee should never have been done. So blame Fianna Fail, the two Brians.

"It's a mystery to us all why they did it. They paid €7m for advice they didn't take. All those guarantees should be taken away.

"Just protect deposits, nothing else. They (the banks) have failed as an institution (sic), those are the ground rules," he said.

Dismissing the Taoiseach and Finance Minister as "gifted amateurs", he said the current debt under which Ireland was struggling should be set aside.

"The Irish people shouldn't have to pay. We have to put a lot of debt to one side," he said.


He insisted that developers had to be part of the solution.

"If you have no golfers, you can't hold a competition. I think we need the developers, but they have to eat humble pie, and I have had a good bit of it. It doesn't taste that bad," he said.

Mr Kelly added that the key to the future for Ireland was doing business globally.

AIB board member and former CEO of the National Treasury Management Agency, Dr Michael Somers, expressed concern that NAMA had become nothing more than a processor.

"I find it somewhat bizarre that we are spending large amounts of money transferring assets from one state body, Anglo Irish, to another, NAMA, and the only people benefiting are the professionals," he said.

He added that a preferable alternative may have been to have "put an almighty arm lock" on the banks and tell them to sort out the mess.


Irish Independent

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