Belfast Telegraph

Big pay day for team in charge of Cerberus portfolio bought from Nama

Pay packages for senior staff at the Cerberus firm responsible for managing Project Eagle soared 49% last year, in the first full year of its ownership of the portfolio.

Project Eagle is the name given to the National Asset Management Agency's Northern Ireland property-loans portfolio which was sold to Cerberus in 2014. Eight staff at Cerberus European Capital Advisors Limited Liability Partnership (CECA) shared a pot of £39.56m in the year ending December 31, 2015, an average of £4.95m each, accounts filed in the UK Companies Office reveal. The packages comprise salaries, bonuses, performance-based shares of profit and carried interest awards.

The figures are revealed in a section of the accounts where the company is obliged to disclose the pay of staff who were deemed to have "a material impact on the risk profile of the firm" in the year in question.

In 2014, six senior CECA staff shared a pot of £19,952,923 - an average of £3.33m.

Cerberus's website lists the entity's chief executive as Northern Irishman Liam Strong, who is also listed as Head of Cerberus Operations Europe.

A Cerberus spokesman confirmed that CECA is responsible for managing Project Eagle, one of a number of major European loan portfolios Cerberus has acquired since the start of 2014. Its purchase of the portfolio has been dogged by controversy ranging from allegations that a "fixer's fee" was to be paid to former Nama Northern Ireland Advisory Committee member, Frank Cushnahan, to a Comptroller & Auditor General report that said Nama could have got more money for the loans in question.

Nama, Cerberus and Cushnahan have consistently denied any wrongdoing in relation to the deal.

Strong sent a Cerberus submission to the Northern Ireland Assembly's Finance Committee, saying it was "satisfied that no improper or illegal payments have been made by Cerberus or any of its affiliates in connection with the Project Eagle portfolio".

In a statement to the Public Accounts Committee last October, Nama chairman Frank Daly said there was no certainty that Cerberus would achieve its projected profit from purchasing Project Eagle.

Belfast Telegraph