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Archive for May 4th, 2012

Due to so-called “drafting difficulties” we will not now get to see the text of the new Personal Insolvency bill until June this year, six months after it was supposed to have been published according to the IMF/EU bailout agreement. With less than 20 bankruptcies per annum in the Republic of Ireland with the existing draconian laws, it will be interesting to see if there is a rush to take advantage of what are expected to be more lenient rules. Meanwhile in Belfast, the BBC reports that another NAMA developer has been declared bankrupt. County Antrim’s Alastair Jackson is probably most associated with Eassda and had quite a number of developments on this side of the Border including the Moyvalley hotel and golf resort in Kildare and the New Forest golf club in Westmeath and a number of residential developments including the Gleann Riada estate in Longford.

The list of bankrupt NAMA developers grows longer and now includes Ray and Danny Grehan, Tom McFeely, John Fleming and Patrick Fitzpatrick. NAMA is seemingly still pursuing Corkman John Fleming who was discharged from bankruptcy last November and is trying to secure an income attachment order and is also reportedly considering pursuing his €500,000 pension pot.

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Yesterday a judge in Belfast’s High Court handed down two judgments in the latest installment of what is becoming the Quinn Family Saga, being played out on both sides of the Border, with ongoing concurrent actions in both Belfast and Dublin. The first of the latest Belfast judgments concerns itself with what IBRC – formerly Anglo – says was an attempt to put assets, which were properly to be used to offset Sean Quinn’s massive debts to the bank, beyond the reach of the bank. At the heart of it is a shopping centre in Kiev,Ukraine which IBRC is after to offset against Sean Quinn’s outstanding loans. The shopping centre in Ukraine owes USD 45m to a Quinn company in Ireland, a company which is now controlled by IBRC after the appointment of receivers last year. But before IBRC installed its receivers, it seems that the Quinn company sold the USD 45m debt to a Northern Ireland shelf company with a GBP 100 share capital controlled by Sean’s nephew, Peter Quinn. And this company in turn sold the debt to a shelf company from the British Virgin Islands and this last company then tried to enforce the debt and seize the Kiev shopping centre. Are you still with me?! And by the way, there is contention over when the loan was transferred and there are suggestions it was backdated.

In any event, the judge Mr Justice McCloskey was having none of it and yesterday’s judgment declared the transfers null and void. Whilst not getting personal with the Quinns at this stage, this is what the judge had to say in conclusion.

“When considered in conjunction with the other related impugned transactions, it is patent that the participants were indulging in an orchestrated, elaborate and illicit charade.  Based on the available evidence, this exercise had no purpose other than to put this asset beyond the reach of legitimate creditors and/or to prejudice their interests.  The Plaintiffs are plainly victims of the impugned transactions.  Accordingly, the Plaintiffs qualify for the grant of appropriate relief by the court.”

The first judgement is available here as a PDF document.

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Thousands of jobs in Teeside in northern England, that is. It is reported that a NAMA property formerly owned by developer John Gallagher is subject to a planning application which if successful next week, will lead to the building of 845 homes, a care home, crèche and “community facilities” as well as shops. There will also be development of roads serving the former Ministry of Defence site in Eaglescliff in Teeside and all told it is expected the project will create 3,000 jobs, The investment to develop the project is put at GBP 350m (€430m). NAMA was asked two days ago if it will be putting that investment into the scheme but there has not yet been any response.

In February this year, it was revealed that less than 40% of NAMA’s advances to developers was for construction and maintenance work in the Republic of Ireland despite 57% of NAMA’s assets – by reference to NAMA acquisition value, by reference to original value it’s higher and close to 65% – being located here.

On Wednesday this week Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan told Sinn Fein’s finance spokesperson that NAMA presently has €1.54bn of cash on hand which will balloon to €4.6bn as soon as Bank of Ireland’s shareholders agree to loan the Government €3.06bn which was temporarily borrowed from NAMA in March. So NAMA has the financial wherewithal to invest substantial sums in projects and it may well be that the Agency foots 100% of the investment in Teeside.

With a 14.3% unemployment rate in Ireland and 302,000 unemployed and a total of 430,000 on the Live Register, you might have thought that the powers that be could entice NAMA to invest more of its cash mountain domestically.

UPDATE: 4th May, 2012. RTE is reporting that NAMA is funding a €13m development at the Charlestown Shopping Centre near Finglas in north Dublin which will generate 250 new construction jobs and when the development is finished with give rise to 250 retail-related jobs.  The development is owned by the Bailey brothers, Tom and Mick but the developer is said by RTE to be G&T Crampton, a company unrelated to the Baileys.

UPDATE: 18th May, 2012. RTE is reporting that it is “understood” that NAMA is lending €10m to the receivers appointed to Landmark Enterprises so as to complete an 80-apartment block in the Beacon South Quarter, the mixed use development developed by Paddy Shovlin, Tony and Patrick Fitzpatrick’s Landmark. Last year, NAMA sold 58 completed apartments in the development  in the Sandyford, south Dublin development to the Cluaid housing association.

UPDATE: 31st May, 2012. ‘Property Week’ reports that planning consent has been granted for the NAMA development at Allens West in Tees Valley, Teeside, northern England.

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