Last week, a Northern Ireland company, “The Sprucefield Centre Limited”, filed its 2011 accounts – available here - and revealed that a GBP 8.5m (€10m) loan which that company had with Bank of Ireland, had been acquired by Westfield Europe Finance (No 2) Limited, a group company of the Austrialian shopping centre giant, Westfield. Westfield is already a joint-venture partner with the company behind Sprucefield.
The loan is understood to relate to the Sprucefield Centre which is a small shopping centre in Lisburn, county Antrim which opened in 1989 and which houses just four outlets – Marks and Spencer (the largest in Northern Ireland), JJB Sports, Boots and McDonalds fast food and also has 1,500 parking spaces.
Back in January 2012, the BBC reported that loans in the Snoddon group, based in Hillsborough, just outside Belfast, had transferred to NAMA. The group, associated with Brian Snoddon, includes The Sprucefield Centre Limited, and note 12 on page 14 of the accounts shows that the Bank of Ireland loan was transferred to Westfield last year. Although the loan is for less than the €20m acquisition threshold usually applied by NAMA to Bank of Ireland exposures, it should have been regarded as associated lending and acquired with the other Snoddon group loans.
It is not known how much NAMA received for the loan, though it seems that Westfield is still owed the full amount by Springfield.