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Archive for April 12th, 2013

FindlaterHouse

This evening, news from credible sources that NAMA has told sold Findlater House for just over €6m, 33% more than the guide price. The property was being marketed by estate agents BNP Paribas. It was previously owned by the Chicago Spire’s, Garret Kelleher’s Shelbourne Developments. It is presently part-let generating €420,000 per annum, indicating a 14% yield on a fully-let basis. The present tenants, the Office of Public Works, the private sector English Academy and the Living Room Bar are together paying €420,000 in rent with tenancies due to expire between 2014 and 2022. About 28,000sq ft of the 56,000 sq ft are let. We do not yet know the buyer.

Separately, it seems that the former Quinn Insurance building on Lower O’Connell Street has today gone “sale agreed”. It was being marketed by CB Richard Ellis. No further details of the sale at present.

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PrancingStallions

No, nothing to do with Paddy Shovlin who is biding his time in Earls Court ahead of his discharge from bankruptcy in May 2013. One of Northern Ireland’s wealthiest families has recently launched what is heralded as “one of the premier privateer race teams” which races Ferraris in European races. When they say “privateer” they’re referring to what the dictionary defines as “a competitor, esp in motor racing, who is privately financed rather than sponsored by a manufacturer” rather than officially sanctioned pirates.

Sorbus Racing features contributions from Peter and Shamus Jennings, the website saying “the father-son duo of Shamus and Peter Jennings bring the perfect mix of experience and youthful flair. A successful Go-karting background as well as a natural talent for track driving keeps the team at the front of the grid.” 2013 is the first season when the racing team will compete, The Jenningses feature amongst Northern Ireland’s wealthiest families and in 2010, Shamus Jennings was said to have been worth GBP 166m (€195m). Shamus is classified as being in “property”

In February 2013, the BBC reported that NAMA had placed an English shopping centre owned by a company controlled by Shamus and Francis Jennings.

There has been flurry of contacts received on here which complain about the Jenningses being in hock to NAMA and still racing about the place in Ferraris. But, just because a developer has loans in NAMA, doesn’t mean he is restrained in his personal life. Michael O’Flynn is a NAMA Top 10 developer but (a) it is understood his loans are amongst the 15% of NAMA loans that are performing and (b) Michael famously didn’t provide personal guarantees. So, it is possible that a loan may only be enforced against a specific property or against a specific limited liability company, which may leave individuals free to use their personal wealth in an unfettered manner and there is no evidence of the Jenningses having personal liability to NAMA. The NAMA chairman, Frank Daly has said “the jets, yachts, Bentleys or whatever are not supported by NAMA and in many cases we will insist they are sold by NAMA to reduce the level of indebtedness”

Still though, you’d have to wonder if the Jenningses were living on this side of the Border if NAMA would not be bringing pressure to bear to cut back on the Ferraris. In March 2012, it emerged at an Oireachtas Good Friday committee hearing that NAMA is more than three times more likely to foreclose on developers in the Republic than in Northern Ireland, though to be clear, there is no evidence that the Jenningses loans – other than the one relating to the Kendal  Riverside shopping centre in northern England referred to above – are non-performing.

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There seems to have been a recent intensification in NAMA’s litigation activity, and yesterday in Dublin’s High Court, the Agency initiated the 14th legal case at that Court this year. NAMA is suing two respondents named as “Michael Finn” and “Claire Finn” and as is usual with recently-filed cases, there is no solicitor on record for the respondents. We have no further idea from the Court Service as to who Michael and Claire Finn are, and although NAMA had receivers appointed to Galway development companies controlled by a Michael and Claire Finn last November 2012, we have no way of establishing with NAMA or the Court Service if these are the subject of this present case.

The applicant in yesterday’s case – reference 2013/1153 S – is National Asset Loan Management Limited represented by Dublin solicitors, Beauchamps.

NAMA doesn’t comment on its litigation, and in the past its court cases have addressed matters ranging from multi million euro personal settlements to protective applications because of Statute of Limitation issues.

So far this year, NAMA has initiated 14 applications in Dublin’s High Court and has been on the receiving end of (coincidentally) 14 applications with 12 relating to people who paid deposits on a NAMA developer’s Portugese golf and hotel resort.

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Following the re-opening of the banks and the apparent agreement of a bailout, Cyprus became page two news, and that is not surprising, because absent accurate up-to-date deposit withdrawal and ECB lending information, we are unable to plot the graph to see whether ECB support for Cypriot banks is reaching unacceptable levels. This lock-down on information was discussed here previously and unless the ECB provides information on its level of support, the first wemight  know about how critical things are, might be when the ECB withdraws funding. Out TV screens are no longer filled with ATM queues nor loud protests outside the Cypriot parliament nor worried looking European and Cypriot politicians.

There is some hopeful news yesterday with some capital controls being eased with interbank payments under €300,000 no longer needing approval and international transfers raised from €5,000 to €20,000 but the daily cash withdrawal limit remains at €300.

But another threat to the Cypriot economy has now emerged with news that the country needs a €23bn bailout rather than the €17bn previously slated; I notice that the previous figure is now being put at €17.5bn as if that will minimize the increase! There is no indication that the external bailout Troika of the IMF, ECB and EU is willing to provide more than €10bn which leaves a funding requirement of €13bn for Cyprus itself, and €13bn in an economy with a GDP of €18bn is not pocket-change – Ireland with an economy of €160bn contributed €17.5bn to its bailout and all of that was in the national rainy day fund, the pension reserve.

The BBC reports that raiding deposits over €100,000 at Laiki and Bank of Cyprus might raise €10.6m. There is now talk about Cyprus selling its “excess” gold reserve worth €400m and previously there was talk of privatization proceeds of €1.4bn. How confident though would you be that a bailout requirement that has risen by 35% in a month, mightn’t rise by another 35%, particularly with what pseudonymous Pawel Morski, a London fund manager, calls “dementedly optimistic”, the assumptions about the Cypriot economic outlook – that blogpost contains links to the leaked bailout documents and is worth a read. Perhaps we will get some enlightened thinking in Dublin today and tomorrow when European finance ministers and central bankers are meeting to discuss the Euro crisis, bailouts and all that.

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FacebookRamadaPortrush

This is how the news of NAMA’s placing of the Ramada Portrush Hotel into administration (akin to receivership on this side of the Border) was announced by the hotel itself on Facebook. A simple entry which was then liked by 140 people and commented on by 83 people in the last 12 hours, says

“To all our Facebook friends we have some very sad news to announce. As of approx 4p.m today the Ramada Hotel Portrush has been placed in administration by NAMA the asset management agency for the Irish government.

Firstly, the most important thing to point out is that the hotel will continue to trade as normal and we have been assured that all bookings and reservations are safe. If you have any concerns contact reception on 02870826100.

The Kennedy family who have owned and operated the hotel for the last 11 years would like to thank all our customers and friends for the support and custom they have given us over that period of time.

We hope you will continue to support Ann and all her team during what is obviously going to be a very difficult period for all involved.

Thank you everyone

Alistair Kennedy”

A few weeks ago, we reported that two of the principals of the Northern Ireland property group, the Kennedy Group, had placed their homes on the market. Yesterday, we learned that NAMA has placed their hotel in Portrush, website here, into administration. There are now concerns for the future of the 69-room hotel which employs 50 staff. According to the BBC, both the DUP’s Ian Paisley junior and Gregory Campbell have expressed concern about the administration and have said they will be raising the matter with the DUP’s finance minister Sammy Wilson.

NAMA has always treaded sensitively with its activities in Northern Ireland, being conscious of the perception of a Republic of Ireland state agency wading into the Province, taking over loans and properties and deciding the fate of Northern Irish businesses and individuals. NAMA has always been keen to emphasise that it would not hoard property or engage in fire sales, and its PR efforts have generally paid off with Minister Wilson welcoming NAMA investment and engagement with the Northern Ireland business community.

Last week however, our own finance minister failed to replace the former Northern Ireland NAMA board member who resigned in October 2011, Peter Stewart with another Northern Irelander. Instead, Oliver Ellingham was appointed to the vacant spot, though of course NAMA still operates a Northern Ireland committee.

What is striking is that we have news of a NAMA hotel receivership in Northern Ireland being responded to by two MPs in 24 hours, yet on this side of the Border, we have had countless receiverships met with silence from our own TDs.

UPDATE (1): 12th April, 2013. The BBC has obtained an interview with Alistair Kennedy of the Kennedy Group who tells the BBC Newsline’s Conor Macauley about how NAMA placed his hotel in administration. This is pathfinding material, in not one of NAMA’s 200-odd receiverships on this side of the Border has RTE broadcast such a timely interview. Alistair claims that NAMA demanded GBP 48m from him in a surprise demand letter delivered on Tuesday this week, and despite claims that politicians Ian Paisley junior and Gregory Campbell requested meetings with NAMA, there was no response, and then at 4.15pm yesterday, NAMA said it reserved its rights to foreclose on the loans and at 5pm, receivers turned up at the hotel. Alistair is baffled as to why NAMA has foreclosed on his loans and his hotel, which is apparently profitable and is heading into its busy summer season. Remember, you are getting the developer’s side of the story here. NAMA has been asked for comment.

AlistairKennedy

UPDATE (2): 12th April, 2013. As expected there is no comment from NAMA on the administration. So, all we have are NAMA’s general statements previously in which it claims that foreclosure is the last resort after trying to work out a plan with the debtor. And of course in this specific instance, the hotel is not being shut down and will continue to trade.

UPDATE: 22nd April, 2013. The BBC has obtained further information about the NAMA foreclosure of Kennedy Group loans and underlying assets. It is to be stressed that not all of the Kennedy Group is affected by the foreclosures. The BBC details foreclosures at ADI Developments, Kennedy Investments, Culzean Properties (No. 3), the Culzean Group and North Coast Hotels. The properties to which administrators have been appointed include “a business park and other land on the Ballymena Road in Antrim, near the Junction One centre”

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