Seen & Heard


Ulster Bank's property sell-off
Ulster Bank has sold or forced the sale of 1,500 properties from its books so far this year, and is now accelerating its disposal programme.

The bank, which is selling residential and commercial premises, has begun to focus in the past few months on “smaller ticket” sales as it works through the secured assets of bad loans, the Sunday Business Post reports.

The paper also reports that the Central Bank has postponed publication of its latest quarterly mortgage arrears figures, due at the end of this month, until mid-December.

The figures will for the first time include buy-to-let loans alongside owner-occupier mortgages.

Quinlan loses Madrid building

Financier Derek Quinlan has lost control of one of Europe’s biggest buildings, which he acquired with a partner for €1.9 billion in 2008.

The Sunday Independent reports that Iranian-born property developer Robert Tchenguiz and Abu Dhabi-based investment fund Aabar wrested control of the 1.02 million sq m (11 million sq ft) Madrid building after a Dutch court ruled they had the right to acquire some of the debt associated with it.

Tchenguiz and Aabar now control the refinancing of the building’s senior debt of €1.55 billion.

The building’s tenant, Banco Santander, signed a 40-year lease on the property, of which more than 35 years are left.

It is estimated the rent roll will deliver at least €2.65 billion over its lifespan.

Central Bank exchange move

The Central Bank is close to deciding on a proposal to demutualise the Irish Stock Exchange.

The Sunday Times reports that consideration of the plan, which could lead to a €20 million distribution to its member brokers, is said to be at “a very advanced stage”. The move would involve creating a new company limited by shares.

HSBC boss wants oath for bankers

Douglas Flint, the chairman of HSBC, is pushing for bankers to take an oath similar to that sworn by doctors as part of radical plans to overhaul the way the profession is viewed in the wake of the financial crisis and successive banking scandals.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Flint is calling for the oath to be administered by an independent body designed to police the banking industry. He has discussed the proposal with his counterparts at the UK’s other big banks. The idea was raised in 2010 as part of a British cross-party pre-election commission on banking, which included Vince Cable, now British business secretary, but it was not followed up.