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
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.
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”