***Public Statement from Independent TD Mick Wallace***
*Government must act now to halt NAMA Sale of Project Arrow...
*Billions at stake for the Irish taxpayer...
The problems related to the workings of NAMA have not gone away, and we really do need an Independent Commission of Investigation, now, rather than later. We need a forensic examination by independent experts, preferably from outside the country, to ascertain whether the maximum return has been achieved for the Irish taxpayer in all transactions to date. We also need to consider how NAMA should best deal with its remaining loan portfolios and assets.
Given all that has transpired with the Northern Ireland loan portfolio Project Eagle, it does appear that Minister for Finance Michael Noonan would have been well advised to have suspended the sale of same following the Pimco revelations – especially given the fact that successful bidder Cerberus dropped its legal team and hired the very same law firms which had worked with Pimco, namely Brown Rudnick and Tughans.
Many may feel that the horse has bolted but that's not completely true. Presently, NAMA is looking to sell Project Arrow – which has a par value of €8.4bn – in one lot. This is made up of 90% Irish real estate, of which 50% is residential and the rest of mixed use. The loans are generally non-performing, so we are likely looking at a very serious write down.
NAMA has appointed Cushman & Wakefield's Corporate Finance team to sell the €8.4bn Project Arrow. This company was until very recently owned by the Agnelli family from Torino, the owners of Juventus. It was sold in May 2015 to DTZ, who were taken over last year by private equity giant TPG. They have a 20% stake in Sherry Fitzgerald's commercial property business and were joined last year by former NAMA Portfolio Manager Donal Kelleher.
Selling close to 500 different loans in one lot does not have any chance of realising best value for the taxpayer – the more loans thrown into the one basket, the more that loan value is driven down. Once again, NAMA are creating a scenario whereby only a US vulture fund is likely to have the wherewithal to purchase, thus excluding Ireland-based investors. Also given that 90% of Project Arrow is Irish real estate, we are most likely to see many medium sized Irish businesses driven to the wall as the new owners ruthlessly chase down the loans. The winner from this exercise will not be the Irish taxpayer or the relevant Irish businesses but faceless US vulture funds.
I believe that our Minister for Finance Michael Noonan must immediately act and suspend the sale of Project Arrow before it's too late. This must be the first response, along with bringing in the necessary independent expertise to establish what has been happening in NAMA and what is the best way forward for the people of Ireland.