Marathon Asset Buying Irish Real-Estate Loans, CEO Richards Says

Marathon Asset Management LP’s Bruce Richards says his firm is ramping up investment in Europe on bets that central-bank easing, a depreciating euro and the plunge in oil prices will buoy the region’s growth.

The hedge fund, which manages about $13 billion, last week bought a non-performing loan from Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency, a group set up in 2009 to take control of banks’ toxic property loans. Backed by 588 multifamily units in Dublin, the loan marks Marathon’s 12th such purchase in two years in a country whose economic growth Richards says outpaces that of its European counterparts.

“We’re big-time bullish,” Richards, Marathon’s chief executive officer, said Monday in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers” hosted by Erik Schatzker and Stephanie Ruhle. “We continue to buy loans. We’ve been very, very busy.”

While U.S. equities have gained just 1.6 percent this year, Germany’s benchmark index has surged 26 percent, fueled by European Central Bank stimulus, the U.S. dollar’s ascent to a 12-year high versus the euro and a 52 percent plunge in oil prices since June. Those factors, along with calls for accelerated euro-area growth by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, make the region “one of the great opportunities globally,” Richards said.

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