Greystones in Wicklow is lucky to have two deputies in the Dail who have proactively worked to see the stalled Habour project re-started and completed. Fine Gael’s Simon Harris and Independent TD, Stephen Donnelly have both been chivvying NAMA along so that the boarded-up eyesore at Greystones Harbour can be transformed into the mix of amenity park land and over 300 developed homes that was envisaged .
You might recall that a company called Sispar – which was a joint venture between developer Michael Cotter’s Park Homes and builder/developer Sisk – was developing the Habour site when the property bubble burst. Loans to the Sispar consortium were transferred to NAMA. There is now a report that NAMA has done a secret deal with Sisk which seemingly involves a major debt write-down.
The Sunday Independent last weekend carried a report on debonair developer, Michael Cotter and Irish construction giant, Sisk’s adventures in France where a yacht club they were developing together has gone pear-shaped apparently. Buried at the bottom of the report is a claim about an Irish development, that “NAMA is believed to have written down over €50m of debt attached to the blighted Greystones Harbour Development. The write-down is thought to be part of a secretive deal struck to allow building giant Sisk Group to take over the project”
The Sispar 2010 accounts had indicated the consortium had a €38m loan from AIB which was understood to have subsequently transferred to NAMA. Presumably this loan forms the lions-share of the “over €50m of debt” that the Sunday Independent reported is believed to have been written-down.
This “deal”, if confirmed, would raise a couple of concerns about the way in which NAMA conducts its business. Firstly, NAMA is proscribed by the NAMA Act from selling assets to defaulting debtors. Whilst Sisk is understood to have been servicing its share of the loan, both consortium partners were presumably jointly and severally liable for the full repayment of the loan. So, on what basis can NAMA have agreed to write-down the debt “to allow building giant Sisk Group to take over the project” when, if the loan were to be called in, Sisk would presumably have become liable for the lot and may even have become a defaulting debtor. Secondly, as with all secret deals, there is a concern that NAMA has failed to maximise the value of its loans. Might a third party have offered better terms to buy the loan and develop the Harbour? Who knows, who can tell, it’s secret.
As is usual with individual projects, NAMA is keeping schtum and not providing any comment.