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Archive for May 15th, 2013

Take Paddy McKillen, pictured below right.

DrownedAndSaved

In 2010 and 2011, he fought tooth-and-nail in Dublin’s High Court and Supreme Court to stop NAMA acquiring his loans. In the end, the Supreme Court judges decided that NAMA could acquire Paddy’s loans but would have to consult with him beforehand. Despite swearing blind at the High Court that Paddy’s loans were “systemic”, NAMA abandoned the fight and decided not to acquire Paddy’s loans which remained at IBRC and Bank of Ireland.

Lucky for Paddy.

Because right now, Paddy has been given a window to refinance his IBRC loans – estimated to be €300m of personal loans and €550m of corporate loans. To refinance his loans, Paddy must repay them 100% and Paddy has been having a whinge through the press recently that IBRC is not accepting his most generous offers which are almost equal to what Paddy owes. Paddy’s window to refinance at 100% expires soon; originally, the liquidator at IBRC was going to have the loans valued by the end of May 2013 and they would then be offered to the market, unless they had been refinanced at 100%. That valuation of the IBRC loans by USB and PwC due at the end of May, seems to have slipped but regardless, it will be a matter of weeks when the un-refinanced loans are offered to the market.

Why is Paddy lucky? Because, even after his refinancing window closes, he will be able to bid for his own loans, and if his bid is the highest and if the bid is in excess of the independent valuation, then Paddy will be able to acquire his loans at a discount. So IBRC into which we have shoveled €34bn will be selling its loans to the market, and if the borrower is the highest bidder for those loans then the loans will be sold to the buyer at a discount, or in other words, the borrowers will receive debt forgiveness or a debt writedown.

To illustrate, if Paddy has personal loans of €300m today, he can refinance these today at 100%, that is pay IBRC €300m and any outstanding interest and fees. After the refinancing window closes, then IBRC will offer Paddy’s loans to the market and say the highest bid is €200m and this is in excess of the market value of the loans, then they will be sold to that bidder regardless of who that bidder is. If it’s Paddy, then he gets €100m of debt forgiveness, no questions asked.

Contrast that with NAMA which is prevented by the NAMA Act from selling assets back to debtors below their par values. So, if a NAMA debtor owes NAMA €300m and offers NAMA €200m for them, and if NAMA markets the loans and €200m remains the highest bid, then NAMA can NOT sell the loans to the NAMA debtor. Which brings us to Sean Reilly (pictured top above, left) who happens to owe NAMA about €300m according to press reporting. Sean is prevented by the NAMA Act from having an interest in buying these loans. The best Sean can do is show some leg to potential investors and try to get them interested in bidding for the loans, and the best Sean can hope for is to act as a consultant after the loans have been sold to someone else.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is clueless about all of this, he doesn’t know how much the NAMA proscription is costing NAMA and by extension the State. He also doesn’t know why there is one rule for IBRC disposals and another entirely for NAMA’s.

What an eejit, and given he is being advised by the Department of Finance on these policies, what a bunch of eejits are employed there.

The Minister was responding to a parliamentary question from the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty. The response must count amongst the most nonsensical you’re ever likely to see.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance the reason the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation borrowers will be eligible to buy their own loans at less than par value when such loans over €10m are offered to the market imminently, but that borrowers at the National Asset Management Agency are precluded by the NAMA Act from buying their own loans at below par value..

Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: As previously advised, independent third parties are being engaged to independently value the loan assets of IBRC (in Special Liquidation). There is an obligation on the Special Liquidators to ensure that assets of IBRC are sold at a price that is equal to or in excess of the independent valuations that are being obtained. A process is currently being finalised that ensures that maximum value is extracted from the loan sales. The Special Liquidators are responsible for putting in place a liquidation process which fulfils their obligation under the IBRC Act and where applicable the Companies Acts.  It is a matter for the Special Liquidators to determine what bidders constitute qualifying bidders for the purposes of the sales process.

The protocol which is in place for the disposal of the IBRC assets is guided in a specified manner as the Special Liquidator will only be holding the assets for a limited period of time. Any assets that are not sold to third parties for a value higher than the independent valuations will be sold to NAMA at that price. Assets that are transferred to NAMA will then be subject to the protocol according to the NAMA Act 2009.

It is the objective of NAMA in any loan sale to achieve its commercial mandate of obtaining the best financial return on behalf of the State. In accordance with the NAMA Act procedures have been put in place by the Agency to achieve these objectives.

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“It’s hard to make a man understand something when his livelihood depends on him not understanding it” Upton Sinclair

DBRS

How do ratings agencies make money? It may come as a surprise to some of you that ratings agencies get paid by companies to rate their debt and prospects. Which inevitably places ratings agencies in conflict between their desire to be retained to provide an assessment on one hand, and on the other the need to provide independent credible assessments to the market. But that’s how the business works, and the world’s biggest ratings agencies show no sign of withering away, despite the opprobrium heaped on them after failing to identify looming crises in American sub-prime mortgage lending and European bank debt.

The three main ratings agencies will be familiar to most of you – Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch. A fourth ratings agency, Dominion Bond Rating Service (DBRS) might not be a household name but it seems to get disproportionate reference by the NTMA when pointing to how healthy our prospects are. DBRS recently produced an assessment of NAMA, covered here. Whilst it undoubtedly contained useful and factual information, for example the three year accounts analysis, its opinions on NAMA were eyebrow raising in their positivity.

DBRS said of NAMA that it has assembled a “talented team” with “deep experience” and with “the necessary skills to extract the best possible return from the loans and underlying property assets”. DBRS went on to say “NAMA has developed a robust and efficient infrastructure that allows NAMA the flexibility to develop individual responses to each debtor that bests maximizes the returns “

We find out today that although NAMA picks up some of the costs of the ratings agencies generally who rate NAMA’s bonds, that NAMA itself directly pays only one of the ratings agencies and guess which one? Yes, it’s DBRS! How much does NAMA pay them for their handsome compliments? Alas, that is confidential.

The information was revealed in the parliamentary question and response below:

Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance if he will confirm the sums paid by the National Asset Management Agency to each of the ratings agencies Fitch, Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s and Dominion Bond Rating Service in each of 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013..

Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: Rating agency costs relating to NAMA are, in the main, paid by the NTMA as part of its overall sovereign rating programme.  NAMA directly bears the cost arising from the rating of NAMA Bonds by Dominion Bond Rating Service (DBRS).  NAMA advises that the terms of its agreement with DBRS are commercially sensitive and of a confidential nature.

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SDNAMAsubpoenaed

So far, the bankruptcy in Sean Dunne’s bankruptcy case has sought to subpoena three companies and individuals – Credit Suisse, People’s United Bank and an employee of the property company Bruce Shaw called Andy Smyth. Today, the trustee, Richard Coan has made a fourth application for a subpoena and this latest application is seeking to have NAMA questioned on 28th May 2013 about matters relating to Sean Dunne’s bankruptcy.

You may have gotten the impression that NAMA was Sean Dunne’s sole creditor, but in fact Ulster Bank rivals NAMA for title of biggest creditor and the bankruptcy trustee has a duty to all of the creditors.  The trustee is seeking to question NAMA under a provision of the US bankruptcy code known as a Rule 2004 Examination which allows the trustee to question NAMA under oath and seek documentation.

The justification for subpoenaing NAMA is given by the bankruptcy trustee in the following terms

“the National Asset management Agency has information relevant to the assets of the Debtor and/or transfers made by the debtor. The National Asset Management Agency may have other information relevant to the administration of the bankruptcy estate of Sean Dunne.”

Sean Dunne’s creditors meeting has been postponed to 29th May 2013, so it would seem that NAMA can kill two birds with the one (airline ticket) stone by submitting themselves to the bankruptcy trustee on 28th May.

The full application for an order, which is likely to be approved by the judge, is here.

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It says something about how atrocious Irish property companies are in that they have all singularly failed to replicate anything like the success of Allsop Space property auctions, and it really makes you wonder if they’re so dumb that they can’t operate a large scale auction, then how dumb are they in their provision of other services? How competitive are their valuations? How efficient are they at marketing? How good is their research?

Today saw the 11th Allsop Space auction in Ireland, and it was another stunning success with 88% of the Lots on offer sold at or after the auction. Although there were 126 Lots originally, 10 were withdrawn prior to today, two were sold prior to today which is a new development, and three were sold after the hammer came down with the reserve not reached. The success rate calculated on here is 88%. The total realized was €12,620,500 excluding the “Sold Afters” which was an average of 34% above the maximum reserves of €9,400,000.

Here are the results, you will find the links the Lot details here.

AllsopSpace15May13

The auction was again packed and at 3pm this afternoon, there were a few seats available but not many, the view here is that about 2,000 attended. There was a protest outside the Shelbourne Hotel at the start of the auction and there appeared to be more security in evidence than previously.

Two Lots were sold prior to the auction which is a new development and a request for comment has been made to the Allsop Space director of auctions, Robert Hoban, as previously Allsop Space had stressed that it would not sell Lots before the auction.

The maximum reserves of the 126 Lots was €16.3m and given the Maximum Reserves of the Lots sold today was €9.4m, that confirms that some of the unsolds were big. The 60 apartment development in Cavan whose Maximum Reserve was reduced today from €1.5-1.7m to €1.3-1.5m still didn’t sell. Nor did the period house on 51 acres in Murroe in county Limerick which has a reserve range of €425-450,000 but only reached €405,000 today.

Our friend Carol Tallon at Buyers Broker Ltd wasn’t tweeting highest prices for unsold Lots today so the above results are a little less useful than usual.

Other than that, a polished performance from Allsop Space; Gary Murphy was the master of ceremonies as usual, and although there was a dispute on one Lot, there was no significant protest from the floor today. Further analysis later, but there were actual residential yields there today of well over 10%, which indicates that residential prices may still be in for a correction, that or rents are set to reduce in some areas.

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This afternoon saw the publication of the April 2013 IPD Monthly Property Index for the UK. The IPD (Investment Property Database) index is the only UK commercial index referenced by NAMA’s Long Term Economic Value Regulations (Schedule 2) and is used to help calculate the performance of NAMA’s “key markets data” shown at the top of this page.

IPDApr13Summary

The Index shows that capital values were flat in April 2013, which which follows declines averaging 0.3% per month since December 2011. Prices reached a peak in the UK in June 2007 and fell steadily until August 2009 when a rally started. Prices then increased by 15% in the year to August 2010 but have since been declining and are down by 3.5% in the last 12 months.

Overall since NAMA’s Valuation Date of 30th November, 2009 prices have increased by 6.3%. Commercial prices in the UK are now 37.1% off their peak in June 2007. The NWL index  remains at 777.1 which means that NAMA needs to see a blended increase of 28.7% in property prices across its portfolio to break even at a gross profit level (taking into account the fact that subordinated bonds will not need be honoured if NAMA makes a loss).

The table below shows the three subsectors in UK commercial property with an index for all three at NAMA’s valuation date of 30th November 2009 of 100. Retail has performed worst whilst offices have been relatively buoyant whereas industrial premises like factories and warehouses have been relatively flat.

IPDApr13Detail

It was September 2011 – 19 months ago – when the UK index last saw an increase and really since August 2010, has been flat and declining.  The prediction for 2013 is for flat prices, though there is an expectation of increases next year and beyond (see below)

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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