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Jewels Seized, Helicopters Grounded as Ireland Chases Debts

People walk newspaper billboards and sale signs in Dubli. Photographer: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images
People walk newspaper billboards and sale signs in Dubli. Photographer: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images

Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency is overseeing the sale of helicopters and seizing jewels belonging to debtors as it chases loan repayments and a 1 billion-euro ($1.4 billion) profit.

Set up in 2009 to purge banks of risky commercial real estate loans, the Dublin-based agency posted a loss of 1.18 billion euros last year after impairment charges of 1.49 billion euros. The agency, also known as NAMA, is looking for buyers for marshland in Dublin, an airport and some of the most expensive land in the country, according to a list published today.

“One of my colleagues told me yesterday he just secured 200,000 euros worth of jewels” a debtor had bought for his partner, Brendan McDonagh, NAMA’s chief executive officer, told reporters in Dublin today. NAMA’s top 180 debtors owe it a “staggering” 62 billion euros, he said.

NAMA still expects to make a profit of 1 billion euros over its lifespan, McDonagh said. The agency paid 30.2 billion euros for loans with a face value of 71.2 billion euros, after a decade-long real estate boom collapsed in 2008. Ireland’s government now controls five of the state’s six largest banks.

The agency acquired 11,500 loans related to 850 debtors. NAMA, which made an operating profit of 91 million euros in the first quarter, published today a list of about 850 properties it seized through the appointment of receivers.

Firesales

Booterstown Marsh, on the coast in south Dublin, Weston Airport in Leixlip, Co. Kildare, south-west of Dublin are on the list. The agency is also looking for buyers for bars in the U.K. and real estate in Kensington in London. Two houses on Ailesbury Road, among the dearest streets in Dublin, are also listed.

Among the London properties to be sold are The Forge, Island Point and the 62-story City Pride tower, three development projects in the Docklands in east London.

NAMA is also selling the Odeon movie theater at Leicester Square in central London and two adjacent sites.

The agency, which has approved a cumulative 3.9 billion euros in asset sales, won’t engage in “firesales” to dispose of assets, McDonagh said.

NAMA didn’t say how many developers had been forced to sell helicopters. Frank Daly, chairman of the agency, said the Galway race festival, which typically draws real estate developers, attracted fewer helicopters this year.

“I don’t know whether that’s a success for NAMA or not,” he said.

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