Tuesday 18 December 2018

Charlie Weston: Tweaks could make it a lot less attractive to pick over bones

Permanent TSB is just the first bank here to offload a large portfolio of nonperforming loans. Stock photo: PA
Permanent TSB is just the first bank here to offload a large portfolio of nonperforming loans. Stock photo: PA
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

The vultures look set to ultimately have their wings clipped after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he is to consider extra protections for mortgage holders whose loans are sold by banks.

Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath has called the Government's bluff on this.

Permanent TSB will press ahead on the current sale, it emerged last night - but now the bank's hopes of outsourcing its mortgage mess have become even more complicated.

The price it was hoping to get for the €3.7bn portfolio could drop dramatically in light of these political developments.

If new legislation is enacted, strengthening the regulation of vulture funds here, it will now be far less attractive for them to buy non-performing loan portfolios.

The unregulated vultures will probably fly off, meaning it is now more likely the 14,000 Permanent TSB residential mortgages in default will be bought for a song by a domestic bank or non-bank lender.

And Permanent TSB is just the first bank here to offload a large portfolio of non-performing loans.

But it is the bank with the largest proportion of mortgages in default.

Roughly half of the value of its non-performing loan book is subject to forbearance measures.

These borrowers got into arrears at some stage, but have now agreed revised repayment schedules.

The loans are classified as non-performing as the bank does not expect to recoup the full amount that is owed.

Sympathy

For the other half of its non-performing loan book, there has been no engagement between the bank and the borrower, for years in some cases.

It will be hard to have sympathy for these non-engagers who face being turfed out of their homes no matter who owns the loans.

Those who are struggling to pay their way will wonder why the courts have been indulging these people so long, a situation that has forced Permanent TSB to try to sell its problem loans.

The soured loans are overwhelming Permanent TSB.

It needs to sell them.

If vultures are put off by having to agree to be regulated like banks, this leaves conventional banks like Bank of Ireland and non-bank lenders such as Pepper and Dilosk as likely buyers.

Up to now vultures have had plenty of opportunity to profit from picking over the carcasses of our banking blow-out.

They will now have to prey on the vulnerable in some other land.

That means that the dirty work of fixing the legacy of the mortgage mess will have to be done at home.

Irish Independent

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