March 8, 2012 / 4:25 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-NAMA hopes rival asset sales won't dent prices

* Increasing competition for property sales in Ireland

* Will talk to any buyer about offering vendor financing

By Conor Humphries

DUBLIN, March 8 (Reuters) - Moves by banks to sell large portfolios of real estate assets in Ireland are unlikely to have a material impact on property values, the chairman of the National Asset Management Agency, the country’s largest property owner, said on Thursday.

Ulster Bank, the troubled Irish business unit of Royal Bank of Scotland, will sell assets of 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion), a source told Reuters this week, raising fears values could be hit by a flood of real estate sales.

NAMA acquired Irish investment property valued at 9.25 billion euros when it took over swathes of assets linked to risky land and development loans on behalf of the state.

Its chairman, Frank Daly, said it would be watching the scale and speed with which others came to market.

“I do not really see it having a material effect on values, but you would need to see what is coming on the market,” Daly told Reuters after speaking to a parliamentary committee.

“It depends on the timescale in which they want to do it. It depends on the assets they have.”

Created to purge Irish banks of 74 billion euros of property-related loans, NAMA is one of the world’s largest property groups having acquired assets ranging from London skyscrapers to Irish farmland.

The state-run agency paid almost 31 billion euros for its portfolio and has approved the sale of 7 billion euros of assets, Daly said, up from 6.6 billion at the end of 2011.

Most of the assets sold were outside Ireland, which is yet to recover from a property crash that has seen residential prices halve and commercial prices fall by some 65 percent.

Daly said the agency is willing to talk to any potential buyer about providing debt finance for deals.

“If someone wants to talk to us about buying assets or loans we have vendor finance, we have staple finance, which we can provide if it’s the right deal, the right investment,” Daly said. “Anybody interested should talk to us.”

He told the parliamentary committee he expected NAMA to offer a pilot scheme “within months”, to sell residential properties with protection against price falls

Approval for the scheme from the European Commission is expected imminently, Daly added.

Under that scheme, homebuyers would pay 80 percent of the price of a property and clear off the rest five years later -- but only if the property maintained its value.

Initially, 175 properties will be offered across the country, with an eventual target of 750. The scheme may then be extended to Northern Ireland, Daly said.

Residential and commercial property prices in Northern Ireland have fallen “at least 50 percent”, Ronnie Hanna, NAMA’s head of asset recovery, told the committee. He said it was hard to give an exact figure due to low liquidity in the market.

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