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Pearse Doherty T.D. expresses serious concerns regarding sale of NAMA’s north of Ireland portfolio

4 April, 2014 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Responding to the sell-off of the entire NAMA north of Ireland portfolio today, Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD said it was crucial that jobs, directly supported by NAMA, were protected by the new owners. He also said the lack of detail about the unprecedented sale was disappointing.

Doherty said:

“Today NAMA conducted its largest ever sale, the entire north of Ireland portfolio, which had a face value of €5.4 billion in loans.

“These were loans bought by NAMA from Irish banks at a discount, the shortfall of which was picked up by the Irish taxpayer through recapitalization and promissory notes.

“Yet we have no idea how much this portfolio was sold for and whether the taxpayer made a loss or profit on the deal.

“‘Commercial sensitivity ‘has become a catch-all term for this government and its agencies. While it’s sometimes necessary, I am disappointed at how NAMA continues to act under a veil of secrecy when it comes to conducting taxpayers’ business.

“How do we know if the taxpayer got the best deal, when we know property prices are starting to recover island-wide?

“RTE says NAMA had a reserve on the loans of £1.3 billion and received more than the reserve (face value of £4.5 billion sterling). How much more? £100 million? £500 million? This still represents a discount that exceeds the average 47% applied to original NAMA purchases.

“In addition, I’m concerned that the 2,000 jobs directly supported under NAMA, continue to be supported by the new owners of this portfolio.

“NAMA’s remit was not only to maximize taxpayer return, but also to aid the local economy. Ceberus Capital Management is an investment firm whose sole aim is making money, not worrying about jobs.

“I have stated from the beginning that I am concerned about NAMA fire sales. This policy of accelerated disposals seems reckless to me. A gigantic volume of loans and money has just transferred hands and the ball seems to have begun rolling on this only a couple of short months ago.

“This was not discussed properly in the Dáil, bar under questions to the minister, mainly posed by Sinn Féin.

“Fire sales at the cusp of property price and economic recovery ring every alarm bell there is.

“While I support NAMA’s endeavours to dispose of loans effectively, I am concerned that, with six years to go until the agency’s wind-up, they may be jumping that bit too soon at interested investors.

“NAMA breaking even is not sufficient. The Irish taxpayer recapitalised the banks with up to €65 billion, much of that as a result of the NAMA discounts. We need to see a profit from this agency and we need to ensure the agency is aware of that.”

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