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Price of castle drops to €8m as bad loans go to NAMA

LOANS secured on the luxurious Humewood Castle (right), put up for sale this week with a price tag of €8m, are in NAMA, according to accounts filed for the company that owns the estate.

Humewood Castle in Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, was put on the market this week with a price tag of €8m, down from the €25m paid when developer John Lally's Lalco Holdings bought the house and estate in 2006. Last night, toxic debt agency NAMA would not reveal whether it had any role in the decision to market the property, and the estate is not listed among the bad bank's assets taken into receivership.

However, accounts filed with the Companies Registration Office (CRO) show that NAMA has a fixed and floating charge over the castle and estate.

Lalco Holdings bought the estate with plans for a €250m development as a luxury hotel and golf resort.

Accounts filed with the CRO for Lalco for the year to the end of 2010 state that the group's bank loans of €27m were transferred to NAMA in 2010.

Security for the loans includes a fixed and floating charge over Humewood Castle along with the surrounding 424 acres, the accounts state.

The NAMA loans are also backed by personal guarantees from Lalco's directors, and charges over the assets of subsidiary companies, according to the document. The same accounts show that Lalco itself pumped €12.7m into a subsidiary company to finance the Humewood deal.

Planning permission for the proposed scheme was granted in 2009, but the project was shelved due to the economic downturn.

Lalco's accounts say that the group submitted a detailed business plan to NAMA in 2010, and signed a memorandum of understanding with the agency.

However, the directors said that NAMA has not given any formal commitment of financial support to the group.

Lalco owed €53m in total at the end of 2010, according to the accounts.

It includes the bank's debt of €27m and €8m owed to John Lally himself in the form of a directors loan as well as debts to group companies.

The business is in deficit to the tune of €40m, according to the accounts.

Meanwhile, in the UK, NAMA's latest sale is of a 40- storey apartment block in Liverpool.

This was put on the market, after being taken into Britain's version of receivership last year.

UK business website "thebusinessdesk.com" says Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) has been appointed to sell the West Tower development, the city's tallest building.

The agent is selling the freehold title and 106 of 123 apartments in the complex, according to the report.

JLL is acting for administrators Grant Thornton and seeking around £12.5m (€15m) for the development. The site is listed on NAMA's enforcement properties website.

Irish Independent