NAMA is spending €2bn of your money investing in developments subject to loans to its developers – nothing new in that, NAMA announced that investment last May 2012. But trying to get any detail on that investment out of NAMA is generally like getting blood out of a stone.
By a happy coincidence, and just as certain Northern Ireland politicians have been lining up to criticize the Agency after foreclosing on loans attached to the Kennedy Group, the Agency has today announced a GBP 9m (€11m) investment in a 95-unit housing development in Dundonald, south-east Belfast. And it is another coincidence still that the criticism of NAMA in the Kennedy Group foreclosure has been limited to politicians from the DUP – Messrs Campbell, Wilson and Paisley junior – and lo-and-behold, Dundonald is a DUP-stronghold, its British Member of Parliament is Jim Shannon of the DUP, and four of the six MLAs from the constituency in the Northern Ireland Executive are from the DUP.
NAMA says the development will generate 100 new jobs over an 18-month period, and that the site has planning permission for 510 homes in total, and that after the construction of the initial 96 units, there may be further construction “in subsequent phases subject to market conditions and the success of the initial phase”
This is the first time that I can recall an announcement of a specific investment anywhere by NAMA in this way. Veterans of the Troubles who had engaged in extortion of businesses and protection rackets must be very impressed, though of course, there is absolutely no suggestion of criminality on anyone’s part here.
The development itself is at the 96-acre Millmount site in Dundonald. And there will be some relief that the dithering over the development appears to be coming to an end. The site was originally owned by the Taggarts but was acquired – using loans from Anglo Irish Bank thought to be GBP 70m – by a partnership in which the Lagan Group featured. NAMA acquired the loans from Anglo and in 2011, had administrators Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon appointed to the site. The announcement today confirms that the homes will be constructed by …. Lagan Homes, part of the partnership that once owned the site. Of course we have no idea how much was spent on insolvency experts, administrators and various lawyers in the past two years, just to end up with Lagan developing the site.
The NAMA chairman Frank Daly said today
“This is a real statement of intent about our Northern Ireland loan portfolio. We are committed to supporting projects that can deliver a commercial return and I hope that there will be more projects like this in Northern Ireland. We are funding this development because it will deliver quality homes for people looking to live and work in Belfast. It will turn an unused site into a development that will benefit the Agency as well as homebuyers, the city of Belfast and the people who work on building it” [ENDS]
Separately, NAMA said that it was in discussions with a Northern Ireland lender to launch its 80:20 deferred mortgage initiative in the Province. With the Nationwide Building Society showing Northern Ireland’s housing increasing by 4.4% in Q1,2013, top of the UK league table, there mightn’t be great demand for a negative equity mortgage product at this point, but it’s all good PR. At this stage, all NAMA is saying is that the homes at Millmount might be offered with mortgages under this scheme.