“NAMA and IBRC are actively engaged in reducing their respective portfolio of debts and debtors. They are not in direct competition with each other for customers and resources. The board of NAMA and the IBRC actively monitor all cost headings and are driving efficiencies and substantial savings through their procurement processes. Due to funding and operational considerations it is not considered appropriate to merge the two agencies at this time” Minister for Finance Michael Noonan responding to a parliamentary question on 18th September 2012
With each passing week, the evidence mounts that Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is clueless about the banking responsibilities part of his remit. In September 2012 he tried to defend his failure to merge NAMA with what remains of Anglo and Irish Nationwide – now merged into the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, IBRC – by claiming that NAMA didn’t compete with IBRC “for customers and resources” This is patent rubbish as NAMA and IBRC are both working out legacy loans, mostly based on property lending, both are set to run down their operations by 2020.
NAMA and IBRC compete for customers. If IBRC is selling a loan portfolio secured by property assets then it is talking to the same potential buyers to which NAMA is talking. So potential buyers get to play the two state-owned institutions off against one another, and this cash-strapped State gets to double its spend on marketing and sales costs.
But it is not just the battleground for customers where NAMA and IBRC compete. They also compete for resources including staff. At the hearing before the Oireachtas finance committee last week, the IBRC CEO Mike Aynsley confirmed that his organization was facing challenges with staff being poached by other (unnamed) state agencies. Mike told the Committee
“We are not the only organisation in the country which has this type of portfolio. As we go through the process of building teams, they are at risk. They get poached, and not only by other State-owned organisations but also by foreign organisations which have difficult and distressed portfolios which they need to work out. The Department of Finance has realised this and it has in train a review of remuneration throughout all State entities. We are involved in this and as we go through the process, we hope it will contain measures designed to assist us retain people through to completion.”
Today we learn that NAMA has recruited 14 staff directly from IBRC. Minister Noonan was responding to a question from the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty and said that of the 227 staff now employed by NAMA, 14 came from IBRC and its predecessors, Anglo and Irish Nationwide Building Society. It was revealed last month that NAMA spends about €500,000 on recruitment fees. So we have the fact that NAMA is recruiting staff from IBRC, we have the fact that IBRC is complaining about retaining staff amid competition, including competition from State-entities and we even have NAMA spending large sums of money on recruitment. And you have the fact of Minister Noonan valiantly claiming there is no competition between NAMA and IBRC.
The full parliamentary question and response is here:
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance further to parliamentary Question No. 311 of 18 September 2012, the number of staff recruited by the National Assets Management Agency, via the legal entity the National Treasury Management Agency, whose immediately prior employer was Irish Bank Resolution Corporation..
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: The National Asset Management Agency informs me that since its inception it has, through the National Treasury Management Agency, recruited 227 staff, 14 of whom have been recruited directly from the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation or its predecessor entities.