23 October 2014

For sale: Northern Irish land once held by ‘bad bank’ Nama


Assets formerly held by the Republic’s bad bank Nama are on the market in Northern Ireland in sales worth a potential £5m.

Properties and land which were formerly owned by Kennedy Group in Portrush, which also owned the Ramada Hotel in the town, are among the first to be put on sale by new owners Cerberus.

According to agents Lambert Smith Hampton, the entire portfolio should fetch £5m.

American fund Cerberus purchased all the loans held by Northern Ireland-based debtors of Nama in the £1.3bn Project Eagle transaction.

They acquired a portfolio nominally worth £4.5m and made up of 850 properties on both sides of the border and in other parts of the UK.

The proposed sale by Lambert Smith Hampton of the Kennedy assets, which include a retail park in Londonderry and a plot of residential land next to Portstewart Strand, is the first major sale in Northern Ireland by Cerberus.

The low-key business will now work on disposing of the rest of the portfolio – which includes assets in the Republic and other parts of the UK.

Stuart Draffin, head of agency at Lambert Smith Hampton, said: “We are encouraged by the level of interest in the assets to date from speculators, developers and end users.

“The portfolio comprises residential and commercial development sites, office, retail and industrial investments.

“The sales will hopefully result in a number of the sites being developed.

“Many of the sites have been vacant for in excess of seven years”

When Nama acquired the loans of Northern Ireland debtors who had borrowed from Irish-based banks, there were concerns from politicians that there could be a fire sale of Northern Ireland property.

The agency has carried out a number of high-profile transactions, including the sale of the Scottish Mutual Building to the Hill brothers, owners of the Galgorm Resort and Spa outside Ballymena.

One insider said he did not believe Cerberus would take a ‘fire sale’ approach – but would likely work at a quicker pace than Nama.

“From what we hear, their first preference is working with borrowers to refinance property, with third part financiers.

“I would say the pace they will work at will be infinitely quicker than Nama.”

Nama also provided financing to developers in Northern Ireland companies whose work was otherwise halted during the economic downturn.

Last year it provided £15m in lending to William Ewart Properties to complete office developments Lanyon Plaza and The Soloist, close to the Waterfront Hall in Belfast

Lanyon Plaza is now the new home of Department of Finance and Personnel agency Land and Property Services, which was officially opened by Finance Minister Simon Hamilton. Law firm Pinsent Masons is in The Soloist.

Find this article on the Belfast Telegraph.

Caption: Aerial view of Portstewart

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