Saturday 16 December 2017

Nama hopes for big return on €280m UK investment

RONALD QUINLAN

NAMA has invested over a quarter-of-a-billion euro in the UK since it was established in 2009, the Sunday Independent can reveal, and with the economy of our neighbour on the road to recovery, that is set to grow.

With €280m of taxpayers' money committed so far to projects across the Irish Sea, officials at the State agency will be looking on with interest tomorrow as one of its biggest borrowers, Sean Mulryan's Ballymore Group, submits one of the largest single planning applications ever made in London.

Situated on the banks of the River Thames and within minutes of London's City Airport and Canary Wharf financial district, Minoco Wharf will become home to 14,000 people housed in a mixture of 3,400 houses and apartments, should it get the go-ahead from the planning authorities.

Nama chiefs will also be hoping for a positive outcome at Minoco Wharf, given that loans associated with Ballymore's original acquisition of the 70-acre docklands plot are currently on its books.

A source close to the developers expressed confidence that the value of the site would be enhanced considerably once planning permission was obtained and that Nama would be repaid in full.

Asked if Nama would be called upon to provide working capital for the development of the Minoco Wharf site, the same source pointed to Ballymore's growing success in attracting cash-rich joint-venture partners, as opposed to relying on the debt model that prevailed during the boom years.

Officials at the State's so-called 'bad bank' appear to be confident of a return on their investments through Sean Mulryan, given their recent agreement of a five-year business plan with the developer's Markland Holdings.

Asked by the Sunday Independent for comment on the agency's multimillion-euro investment in the UK, a spokesman for Nama said: "Nama has invested working capital and other funding totalling €280m in UK-based projects to enable them to be brought to completion.

"This funding has only been made available following rigorous cost-benefit review and on the basis that it enhances the sales proceeds to Nama's advantage."

Meanwhile, another high-profile Nama client -- Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett's Treasury Holdings -- held public consultations this week on an extension to London Underground's Northern Line out to Battersea Power Station.

As part of the consultation, 40,000 leaflets were circulated to residents living along the proposed stretch of rail line, which would provide a crucial transport link to Treasury subsidiary REO's planned redevelopment of the power station.

A significant portion of the debt on the iconic site is held by Nama since it was taken on to its books from Bank of Ireland.

Sunday Independent

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