NAMA keeping close eye on battle for former Treasury assets

NAMA is “monitoring closely” the increasingly bitter takeover battle for 16 former Treasury Holdings buildings in Dublin and Cork, the Irish Independent has learned.

The National Asset Management Agency was thought to have exited any involvement in the portfolio that includes the Stillorgan Shopping Centre and Bank of Ireland’s Dublin headquarters when it sold an €85m junior loan secured on the buildings earlier this year to US-based Northwood Partners for a rumoured €100,000.

But sources in Dublin say NAMA managers will be watching Wednesday’s vote with interest because they kept an indirect interest in the loan even after the sale.

The battle for the property portfolio – dubbed Opera Finance CMH – is set to come to a head on Wednesday when bondholders who seized the trophy buildings over unpaid debt are due to vote at a meeting in London on whether to back a €306m sale to US buyer Kennedy Wilson.


Bondholders could try to block that deal after a rival €311m offer from Northwood Partners was launched last week. Northwood claims its offer protects the sellers from a potential multi-million euro capital gains tax bill.

Blocking the Kennedy Wilson deal may not be possible, however. German bank Eurohypo, which is the “servicer” of the complex debt structure secured on the buildings, has indicated it will push through a sale to Kennedy Wilson after 52pc of the subset of borrowers with the best claim on the sale proceeds backed that offer.

Bondholders are owed €375m, so some of the lenders will suffer a loss when the sale goes through.

NAMA’s “indirect” involvement is though to mean that if Northwood can unseat Kennedy Wilson in the takeover chase, the State could potentially claw back additional cash down the line by sharing any profits from what is now the most sought-after property deal since the crash.

The 16 buildings also include Merchants Quay Shopping Centre in Cork, and a plethora of high-end Dublin office blocks such as the FAS offices on Baggot Street, and KPMG’s main Dublin offices.

Northwood was an underbidder in the initial process to sell the assets that had looked to be over last month. In May, a subcommittee of the lenders recommended a joint offer from US investors Kennedy Wilson and Varde of €306m.