Belfast Telegraph

Nama set for loans offer to Northern Ireland investors

By Clare Weir

Nama, the Republic's agency to manage bad debts in the banking sector, has revealed it will offer finance to potential buyers of seized commercial property in Northern Ireland to help stimulate investment.

Nama's chairman Frank Daly announced the vendor finance, which is already available in the Republic, would be extended north of the border during a speech to an Irish parliamentary committee.

Mr Daly said that vendor finance will help bring international capital into both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland markets.

He added that the agency expects to soon receive European approval for its pilot mortgage initiative to offer homeowners in the Republic some protection from future falls in house values.

"If this mortgage initiative works on the basis of the pilot scheme in the Republic, we are very open to seeing if we can introduce a similar initiative in Northern Ireland with our partner banks", he said.

"Any initiative available in the Republic of Ireland market will, where possible, be made available and tailored to suit the economic circumstances in Northern Ireland."

He told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement that Nama had lent £75m to Northern Ireland debtors to fund the completion of work in progress and working capital.

Of this total, £29m related to projects in Northern Ireland, with the balance in Britain and the Republic. Mr Daly reiterated that Nama would not engage in so-called "fire sales" in Northern Ireland.

"We do not, nor do we intend to, resort to fire sales or dumping of assets. We have the capacity to take a longer-term view.

"Nama's workings in Northern Ireland to date are confirmation of this approach", he said.

Stephen Deyermond of commercial property consultants TDK said that the terms and conditions of the financing deal would have to be scrutinised.

"Any injection of finance into the market is to be welcomed but there are still hurdles to overcome and the terms and conditions imposed by Nama, how much they will lend, to whom, and how long for, will be very important."