Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Bank's third loan portfolio is now up for sale

By Margaret Canning

Ulster Bank has unleashed its third portfolio of Irish property loans onto the market, according to property news website CoStar.

Project Aran consists of 315 properties – mainly in the Republic – belonging to 411 borrowers.

There are 1,150 homes in the portfolio, 1.1m sq ft of office and retail space, 1.1m sq ft of industrial space and 1,550 acres of land.

Around 20% of this is north of the border, just over three-quarters is in the Republic and around 3% in other parts of the UK.

While it is understood Project Aran does not include any high-profile assets, its total worth is €1.7bn (£1.3bn), and it also relates to borrowings by 411 individuals or companies.

A spokesman for Ulster Bank's parent company Royal Bank of Scotland, which has instigated the off-loading of property loans from its Irish subsidiary, refused to comment on the latest reports on Project Aran.

According to CoStar, around 50% of the value is concentrated in Dublin, and another 10% in five of Ireland's biggest cities, including Belfast.

However, it is understood that the majority of the Northern Ireland assets relate to properties in provincial towns and villages, including development land.

In some cases, borrowers whose loans are in Project Aran are bidding to buy back their debt.

Last month it emerged that bidders for Project Achill, the forerunner to Project Arran, had been shortlisted to four finalists.

They are Cerberus, which bought the portfolio of Nama in Northern Ireland, Lone star, Oaktree Capital Management and Deutsche Bank. The process closes on Friday, September 19.

Belfast Telegraph