Whilst there is genuine concern for the future of the Sunday Business Post which is expected to enter a 100-day examinership process today, from which it will hopefully exit with a new proprietor, it seems there might also be cause for concern about Ireland’s No 4 best-selling Sunday newspaper, the Sunday Times; not about its finances, it should be stressed – after all it has the backing of News International – but it seems its reporting is questionable.
In the Dail this week, the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan was asked about a report in the Sunday Times on 24th February, 2013 in which reporter Aine Coffey had a story about Irish Bank Resolution Corporation and its process for selling off loans. It was reported – sorry, it’s not online unless you have a subscription – that “borrowers will receive letters in the middle of this week” from IBRC offering them their loans. The report went on to say that liquidators were that weekend – 23rd and 24th February 2013 – finalizing details of the loan sell-off. The report confidently stated that borrowers with loans over €10m who are unable to refinance their loans at par value, would be entitled to bid for their loans subsequently on a “best and final offer” basis. If the loans were not sold at their minimum “or reserve” valuation, then they will go to NAMA. Lastly, the report stated that the previous week – that would have been 17-24th February, the Special Liquidator of IBRC issued “requests for proposals” (RFPs) to unspecified companies so that they could bid to provide independent valuations of the IBRC loan portfolio. Aine reported that the replies were due by the following week to the RFPs – that is, by 3rd March 2013 – and that there would be a four week valuation period. UBS, the former employer of Department of Finance boss, John Moran, is said to be one of the lucky companies selected to be sent an RFP.
The Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty asked Minister Noonan about IBRC writing to borrowers by 27th February 2013 and what the process would be for the disposal of the loans.
In his response, Minister Noonan said “I am advised by the Special Liquidators that the reports in the Sunday newspaper referred to are incorrect.”
Indeed, from other parliamentary questions, it seems that the loan valuation process will only be completed in June 2013 which doesn’t leave a lot of time before NAMA is set to take over the unsold loans by the end of August 2013.
Here is the full parliamentary question and response.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance further to reports in a Sunday newspaper that Irish Bank Resolution Corporation is this week, week ending 27 February 2013, writing to borrowers regarding the disposal of their loans, the process to be adopted by the Special Liquidator KPMG to ensure that any sale is transparent, that potential buyers have access to adequate information and sufficient time to arrange financing and that the interests of the taxpayer will in general be protected and the sale price maximised.
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: I am advised by the Special Liquidators that the reports in the Sunday newspaper referred to are incorrect. The Special Liquidators are still in the process of devising and implementing the sales process in respect of IBRC’s assets and are therefore not in a position to write to borrowers with regards the disposal of their loans.
The Special Liquidators are in the process of obtaining suitable independent professional advisors who shall employ standard valuation methodologies appropriate to each class of asset of IBRC. Following that independent valuation process, the Special Liquidators will sell the assets of IBRC (which are subject to the floating charge). Borrowers, third parties and other financial institutions will be given the opportunity to bid for specific portfolios (or component parts thereof) as part of an open and transparent process at or above their independent valuation and failing that, the Special Liquidators will sell the assets to NAMA at their valuation price.