* Sale exceeds 1.3 bln pounds minimum price-source
* Bought by private equity group Cerberus Capital
* NAMA speeds up sales ahead of potential quicker wind down
(Adds source on price, NAMA quotes and details)
By Padraic Halpin
DUBLIN, April 4 Ireland's "bad bank" sold its
entire portfolio of loans belonging to Northern Ireland-based
debtors on Friday in its largest deal to date, cashing in on
surging international demand.
The loans, which had a par value of 4.5 billion pounds ($7.5
billion), were sold to affiliates of private equity firm
Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. for more than the 1.3 billion
pounds minimum reserve price, a source familiar with the
operation told Reuters.
The National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), which paid 1.3
billion euros ($1.8 billion) when it took over the portfolio and
had clawed back 100 million euros through disposals by the end
of 2012, did not disclose the terms of the transaction.
NAMA, one of the world's largest property groups, paid out
32 billion euros to purge Irish banks of risky loans worth 74
billion euros after a real estate crash wrecked the economy and
pushed the country into a bailout in 2010.
Seen as a major liability to Dublin's finances until quite
recently, the state-run agency is now benefiting from a surge of
demand from abroad and has been asked by the government to see
if can offload all its assets before a deadline of 2020.
"This transaction represents a significant achievement for
NAMA. We are satisfied that the sales process will deliver the
best possible result for the Irish taxpayer," it said in a
The deal follows confirmation this week by liquidators to
the collapsed Anglo Irish Bank that they had sold more than 90
percent of a loan book with a par value of 21.7 billion euros, a
result that exceeded all initial expectations.
The liquidators' sales, which were snapped up by the likes
of Lone Star and Deutsche Bank over recent weeks, also came as a
boost for NAMA, which will take over the residual book. It had
anticipated a far larger transfer of loans.
NORTHERN IRISH BOOST
Friday's sale was also hailed as good news for Northern
Ireland. At 4.5 billion pounds, the par value of the book is
equivalent to about 15 percent of the British-controlled
The loans were also secured on some assets in the Republic
of Ireland, Britain and elsewhere in Europe, NAMA said. The
split between Northern Ireland and other countries was around
50/50, the source familiar with the process said.
"I believe that this deal is excellent news for the Northern
Ireland economy," said the British province's first minister,
"I have made clear the danger to the local economy of
leaving valuable assets undeveloped and the threat that these
posed to otherwise profitable businesses."
($1 = 0.6029 British Pounds)
($1 = 0.7291 Euros)
(Additional reporting by Sam Cage in Dublin and Ian Graham in
Belfast; Editing by Tom Heneghan)