Archive for May 14th, 2010

NAMA in Belfast today

As previously reported here, NAMA officials including the owlish Brendan McDonagh, CEO and the hawkish Frank Daly, Chairman will be in Belfast later today to explain a little of NAMA’s work and how it will relate to businesses in Northern Ireland.

NAMA’s host will be the Northern Irish Chamber of Commerce and their President, Bro McFerran, penned a piece yesterday  for the businessfirstonline.com website in which he outlines some of the concerns surrounding NAMA and in particular:

  • “Companies may be drawn into NAMA even though they have performing loans and pose no or minimal risk to the financial institution – there is a concern that this could be potentially damaging to their reputation if NAMA is perceived as a holder of non‑performing loans
  • Trading companies who find themselves drawn into NAMA could find that their ability to access future project or working capital finance is impaired – at this stage it is unclear how NAMA will address this issue
  • Taxation issues – there may be issues with withholding tax
  • Other issues e.g. what impact on personal guarantees are there data protection issues with transferring loans, etc”

Hopefully there will be some press reporting of the event. NAMA which is excluded from the State’s Freedom of Information legislation and which has yet to produce a meaningful business plan or Codes of Practice, attracts immense curiousity and not a little suspicion.

UPDATE: The Belfast Telegraph reports that NAMA’s Northern Ireland Advisory Committee held its first meeting on Wednesday 12th, May 2010 and also claims (Update 18th May, 2010, NAMA has issued an official release) that recent appointees to the Committee which is chaired by Peter Stewart have been Brian Rowntree and Frank Cushnahan who will join with existing NAMA Board members Brian McEnery, Eilish Finan and Ronnie Hanna (who is also NAMA’s Head of Credit and Risk).

UPDATE: Sammy Wilson, the  Finance and Personnel Minister in the NI Assembly gave an interview to the BBC’s Newsline in which he expressed optimism for a beneficial impact on Northern Ireland’s property market by NAMA. Mr Wilson defended the fact that NAMA may in some cases pursue a borrower for repayment through bankruptcy procedures – Mr Wilson said that the original lending banks would have followed the same course if the loans weren’t transferred to NAMA. The two main concerns it seems from the North’s perspective are that NAMA does not release assets to the market in an uncontrolled fashion that would undermine the wider property market (“no firesales here”) and that NAMA contribute finance, where commercially feasible, to complete projects.  The BBC reported that NAMA had revealed today the 150-or-so borrowers in Northern Ireland that are expected to have loans transferred to NAMA – that too is incorrect as NAMA maintain the same degree of confidentiality as the banks when they take over a loan. In the State, there has been widespread speculation about the identity of NAMA borrowers but NAMA has never officially identified borrowers.

UPDATE: The Irish Times adds some flesh to the meeting and says “Nama’s first briefing in the North set out how the agency will work, it did not provide specific details about any strategy, or detail whether the valuation process will be different compared to that in the South”. It seems the purpose of the meeting which was apparently attended by 300 was to dispel suspicions that there would be hoarding or firesales of assets that might undermine the local Northern Ireland market.

UPDATE: The Belfast Telegraph gives its take on the meeting yesterday here. Nothing new to report or add to the above. The Telegraph describes NAMA’s 20% loan default rate and assumption of €5bn lifetime profit as “heroically optimistic”.

UPDATE: And finally, NAMA has released the text of the speech in Belfast by Peter Stewart, chairman of the Northern Ireland Advisory board within NAMA. There’s nothing you won’t know already but it is amusing the extent to which he endeavours to tell the audience that NAMA is NOT about  “comin’ over here, takin’ our jobs and stealin’ our women” , a theme NAMA must promote in its dealings outside the State.

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