Monday 11 December 2017

Latest loan sales will be among Nama's last

The Treasury Building on Grand Canal Street Lower where NAMA is based. Photo: Tom Burke
The Treasury Building on Grand Canal Street Lower where NAMA is based. Photo: Tom Burke

Peter Flanagan and Colm Kelpie

Nama's latest loan sales are likely to be among the last major deals to be done by the agency.

The State's bad bank kicked off the sale process for Project Emerald and Project Ruby on Tuesday. Those two portfolios are tied to commercial and residential property loans in Ireland and across Europe.

Most of the residential loans will be related to apartment blocks. That has raised fears that tenants in those apartments could be forced to leave their homes at the end of their leases by whoever buys the loans.

That would be a similar scenario to what is happening in Tyrrelstown in west Dublin, where 40 tenants have received notices to leave before the properties are sold off after their leases expire. Nama was not involved in that sale.

The loans in Emerald and Ruby were worth €4.7bn when they were originally made, but will sell for significantly less than that as they are largely non-performing.

The quality of the loans being sold by Nama has got progressively worse as it moves closer to the end of its planned existence.

After starting with top quality assets in London and elsewhere, the most recent figures from Nama show that at the end of last September, the bad bank had loans with an estimated value of €9.6bn.

That figure has shrunk appreciably since then, however. In December, the agency flogged the Project Arrow loan book for an estimated €800m.

The Emerald and Ruby sales will send that figure even lower.

In a note to clients this week, specialist bank Investec estimated Nama had about €5bn worth of loans still on its books.

In a sign of how close the agency is to the end of its plan as a bad bank, it paid off 80pc of its so-called "Nama bonds" this month.

That is more than nine months ahead of schedule and puts it on a trajectory to finish its debt repayments much earlier than expected.

Of Nama's remaining loans, hardly any are related to major developers or business figures. Most of them are tied to relatively small borrowers.

Most of the major loan books tied to a single borrower have been sold off at this point.

There is little doubt that more loan sales will follow Project Emerald and Ruby this year, although the pace of selling will be dictated by the level of interest in these two portfolios. A spokesman for Nama declined to comment on the matter.

Irish Independent

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