Archive for March 29th, 2013

NAMA sues Gemma Stack

News from the Court Service this morning that NAMA has launched a legal action in Dublin’s High Court against an individual named “Gemma Stack”. The case reference is 2013/1031 S.

It’s Good Friday and a holiday, so you wouldn’t be able to get information out of the Central Office at the High Court anyway, but regardless because this is Ireland, you can’t publicly access details on any day of the year of a case so that you can positively identify the respondent, the nature of the application or the remedy sought. NAMA’s spokesperson is working today but NAMA doesn’t generally comment on individual court cases, not even to confirm the identity of whom they’re suing. We have seen in the past that some of these cases can be quite serious with NAMA pursuing multi million euro judgments, others are nugatory with NAMA merely making protective applications because of the statute of limitations.

So, all we can say is NAMA is suing an individual named “Gemma Stack”. Could be Irish or could be a foreigner. Probably a woman with that first name. A quick Google will reveal a few likely candidates but unless commenters have evidence, this is not the forum for speculation. As is usual with recently-filed cases, there is no solicitor on record for the respondent. The applicant is National Asset Loan Management Limited represented by Dublin solicitors, Gartlan Furey.

So far this year, NAMA has launched 12 actions in Dublin’s High Court and has been on the receiving end of 14, though 12 of those relate to deposits on the one Portugese golf and holiday resort.

UPDATE: 6th April, 2013. The Court Service yesterday amended the record for this application and the respondent is now shown as “STACK IN HER CAPAC AS LPR KEVIN FITZSIMONS DECSD GEMMA” which probably means the respondent is Gemma Stack in her capacity as legal personal representative of Kevin Fitzsimons who had died. We’re none the wiser as to who Kevin Fitzsimons is. There was a Kevin Fitzsimons who was involved with Ardawn PLC, but we have no idea who this particular “Kevin Fitzsimons” is.


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Yesterday was atrocious for Labour, quite bad for Sinn Fein, encouraging for Fianna Fail, great for Fine Gael and remarkable for Direct Democracy.


You’ll find the final results for yesterday’s by-election here and the 1st preference votes are extracted above. You’ll find the results in the same constituency in General Election 2011 here with the 1st preference votes extracted below. Both tables are from the ElectionsIreland.com website. It is notable that the turnout this week was very low at 38% compared to 66% at GE2011.


 Fine Gael. This was a mid-term election where government parties typically do badly, yet Fine Gael maintained its landslide GE11 share of the vote and this in a period when property tax demands are landing on peoples’ doormats. The economy is stumbling along the bottom, with confirmation that we had slipped back into recession last week. Child benefit cuts, PRSI increases, Croke Park 2, imminent water charges should all have been playing on the minds of voters, yet they plumped for the Fine Gael candidate. You’d expect the electorate to be furious, yet they opted to support dynasty politics and to put a 26-year old into a €92,000-a-year job. Sympathy for the family of Shane McEntee who died through suicide in December 2012 might have played some part, but the McEntee brand is said to be weaker in the south of the constituency and Fine Gael did quite well there. There was a marginal falloff in support for Fine Gael yesterday with a relative 5.8% decline from the 40.87% share of 1st preference votes in GE2011 to the 38.49% won by Helen McEntee yesterday.

Fianna Fail. Senator Thomas Byrne lost his Dail seat in GE2011 when Fianna Fail throughout the country suffered what for it was a wipe-out. The new Government is implementing 99% of the Memorandum of Understanding which FF agreed with the bailout troika in 2010. FF oversaw the bank guarantee in 2008 and were at the helm in the 2000s as the economy ballooned in an unsustainable manner and as lax controls across state agencies, including the Central Bank and Financial Regulator, fueled the circumstances that led to the financial collapse, with consequent austerity, unemployment and emigration. But they’ve dusted themselves off and swung a well-oiled party machine into action, and have performed very well in Opposition, particularly given their role at the helm just two years ago. Recent opinion polls have pointed to a recovery in FF’s popularity, still nowhere near the traditional 40% but they touched 29% a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday FF won 32.92% of the 1st preference votes, up 68% relatively from the 19.61% in GE11. They should be very encouraged by yesterday’s results.

Sinn Fein increased their share of the 1st preference vote from 8.88% in GE 2011 to 13.02%, a 47% relative increase, and Sinn Fein is now the third party in the constituency. Their candidate is new and there was a three-week campaign. So why is the result quite bad? Fianna Fail saw their share of 1st preference votes increase by 68% compared with General Election 2011 and yet Sinn Fein should be the official Opposition given the recentness of FF being at the helm. Sinn Fein might believe that in a three-party constituency, the third party would get the third seat in the next general election, but with the Fine Gael and Fianna Fail share of the vote touching 70%, these two parties may well field two candidates apiece and may well secure the three seats themselves. Meath East may remain a Sinn Fein-free zone. And as for Darren O’Rourke being a new candidate, he was less “new” than Ben Gilroy who doesn’t even live in the constituency – he lives in Navan – and whose party was unknown to most people three weeks ago.

Direct Democracy. Ben Gilroy is from Navan in the constituency of Meath West yet he did pretty well in Meath East. Direct Democracy Ireland had its first outing in a general election yesterday. Throughout the short three-week campaign, Direct Democracy was omitted from most national platforms like RTE debates and yet it came in fourth place ahead of Labour and is not far off Sinn Fein’s heels – it won 1,586 1st preference votes compared with 3,165 for Sinn Fein. I know Ben Gilroy from his eviction protest in county Laois last year where he (temporarily) sent the bailiffs away with a flea in their ears. He seems to regularly attend the High Court in Dublin when the Quinns – Sean and family – are in court and beyond that, know very little. But from zero to 6.45% of 1st preference votes is remarkable, and it will be interesting to see if this performance was a novelty which peters out or if the party gets a foothold.

Labour. The writing is on the wall for Labour. They have recent memory of the Fianna Fail and Green coalition, they know how it goes. Labour can only hope for a recovery in the economy, between now and the next general election, which will be reflected in the lives and pockets of their traditional constituency in urban working class (?) areas. It’s mid-term and the betting remains that the next general election will take place in 2016. The outlook for unemployment however is not great and we’re still predicting 13% unemployment in 2015.  Budget 2014 in December 2013 is supposed to take a further €3.1bn out of the economy, in Budget 2015 they’re required by the Memorandum of Understanding with the Troika to remove an additional €2.5bn and the following year €2bn. With tax increases taken off the table by the dominant Coalition partner, you really would wonder if Labour will return any candidates in 2016. Fine Gael is likely to become more, not less, insistent on pursuing its ethos for the benefit of its constituency as we near the next general election. Labour took the brunt yesterday for the pain being felt by the electorate, but it must be galling to see their Coalition partner romp home unscathed in the same election.  Labour is a bigger species of animal to the Greens, and it is unlikely to be wiped out completely, but yesterday’s results should give that party a jolt into taking a serious look at its future.

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Well, “fan” might be too strong a term. What documents recently disclosed in NAMA’s case in Connecticut against Sean Dunne and his wife, Gayle, show, is that the NAMA CEO is a subscriber to a UK and Ireland media monitoring company, called Zenark.

We see from an email dated Sunday 12th August 2012, that two blogposts on here comprise 40% of the NAMA CEO’s reading list for that day – the two blogposts are here and here – the other three stories are from the Sunday Independent. Given that this was the Sunday after the first revelations by the Sunday Times in the Enda Farrell affair, it is surprising not to see any reference to the Sunday Times which followed up its story that Sunday, though the Sunday Times is generally a subscription service.

Apparently there are another 200+ pages to the recent NAMA disclosure in the case. NAMA had no comment on the above email this morning, though if any comment is forthcoming, it will be posted as an update here.

Yesterday in Connecticut, the former NAMA Asset Recovery Manager, John Coleman was “deposed” by the Dunnes. “Deposing” involves one side in a legal case questioning a witness in the case on matters relevant in the case, with the ability to then produce the answers in a subsequent court hearing. The main court hearing in the NAMA case against the Dunnes is scheduled for September 2014 (yes, 18 months hence). In a recent court hearing, the judge indicated that she would consider a request from the Dunnes to depose the NAMA CEO himself, depending on what transpired in the deposing of John Coleman.

You’ll find background on the case here. In a nutshell, NAMA is pursuing Sean Dunne for a €185m judgment it obtained in 2012, and NAMA is alleging shenanigans involving transfers between Sean and his wife that relate to a Swiss apartment and several US properties, and that some of Gayle’s wealth should properly be handed over to NAMA. The Dunnes deny the allegations, and in fact Gayle Dunne – pictured above – has said that the case is damaging her reputation. The saga in the court room has been mixed for NAMA with the judge refusing a freezing order on Dunnes’ assets and the judge has been critical of some of the evidence, and has allowed the Dunnes access to documents and witnesses despite resistance from NAMA, on the other hand, the case is going ahead in 2014. We are still waiting to hear the outcome of a hearing last month where the Dunnes attempted to have part of the case thrown out for lack of jurisdiction.

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The Nationwide Building Society has published its UK House Price data for  March 2013. The Nationwide tends to be the first of the two UK building societies (the other being the Halifax) to produce house price data each month, it is one of the information sources referenced by NAMA’s Long Term Economic Value Regulation and is the source for the UK Residential key market data at the top of this page.

The Nationwide says that the average price of a UK home is now GBP 164,630 (compared to GBP 162,638 in February 2013 and GBP £162,764 at the end of November 2009 – 30th November, 2009 is the Valuation date chosen by NAMA by reference to which it values the Current Market Values of assets underpinning NAMA loans). UK prices are up 0.8% over the the past 12 months and are now 11.5% off the peak of GBP £186,044 in October 2007. Interestingly the average house price at the end of March 2013 being GBP £164,630 (or €195,152 at GBP 1 = EUR 1.1854) is 24% above the €156,855 implied by applying the CSO February 2013 index to the PTSB/ESRI peak prices in Ireland. It should be said that in the UK, the Nationwide Building Society adjusts the actual prices for seasonal factors and reports that prices were flat in March 2013. The view on here is that seasonality is irrelevant in the market.


With the latest release from Nationwide, UK house prices have increased 1.1% since 30th November, 2009, the date chosen by NAMA pursuant to the section 73 of the NAMA Act by reference to which Current Market Values of assets are valued. The NWL Index is now at 779 (because only an estimated 20% of NAMA property in the UK is residential and only 29% of NAMA’s property overall is in the UK, small changes in UK residential have a negligible impact on the index) meaning that average prices of NAMA property must increase by a weighted average of 28.4% for NAMA to breakeven on a gross basis.

According to the Nationwide this morning, the outlook for 2013 is uncertain but recent developments in the provision of credit for first time buyers and other initiatives may lift activity slightly,

“The outlook for the housing market is unusually uncertain at present, in part because the prospects for the wider economy are unclear, but also as the impact of a number of policy initiatives is hard to gauge”

The Nationwide has also released its analyses for the first three months of 2013, which surprisingly show Northern Ireland outperforming the rest of the UK for Q1,2013, and that is the first time that’s happened for at least five years. Anecdote from Northern Ireland does suggest that there is competition for well-located family homes; might the world’s worst property crash finally be coming to an end?


The UK economy is suffering difficulties almost every bit as challenging as those in the EuroZone and Ireland. Sure, they have their own currency and they’ve printed GBP 300bn of it in an economy with a GDP of 1.5tn, to help inflate their problems away. And yet they appear poised for a triple dip recession.  On 20th March 2013, the UK’s independent Office for Budget Responsibility published its latest fiscal outlook which forecasts GDP for 2013-2017 at 0.6%, 1.8%, 2.3%, 2.7% and 2.8% (but as with all economic forecasts in the long term, all forecasters forecast a peachy outlook!). Deficit:GDP is forecast for 2013-2017 as 6.8%, 6.0%, 5.2%, 3.5% and 2.3%. Debt:GDP is forecast in 2013-2017 at 94.9%, 98.6%, 100.8%, 100.8% and 99.4%. Inflation is forecast for 2013-2017 at 2.8%, 2.4%, 2.1%, 2.0% and 2.0%. It expects residential prices to increase 0.9%, 1.9%. 3.6%, 4.0% and 4.0% in 2013-2017 and commercial property to change -0.1%, 2.6%, 3.6%, 3.8% and 3.4%.

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