Hamilton keen to work with Nama in North
Minister says access to finance is a major issue for NI businesses
Simon Hamilton, who is the new Minister of Finance in Northern Ireland, says he has been reassured by Nama’s track record in relation to asset sales in the North. Photograph: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire
Northern Ireland’s new Finance Minister is keen to explore ways in which the National Asset Management Agency could help businesses in the North access finance.
Simon Hamilton said he is looking forward to meeting his counterpart Minister for Finance Michael Noonan for the first time and hopes to strike up a “good working relationship”.
Mr Hamilton said he is very conscious of the central role that Nama plays in the Northern Ireland economy.
To date the agency has approved £123 million in funding to its Northern Ireland-based debtors.
It initially acquired loans totalling £3.5 billion which represents less than 4 per cent of Nama’s entire portfolio.
Mr Hamilton said he had been reassured by Nama’s track record in relation to asset sales in the North and the fact it had not engaged in fire sales of assets.
To date Nama has sold assets worth £87 million in Northern Ireland.
Mr Hamilton said access to finance was a major issue for businesses in Northern Ireland and he wants to work with organisations to try and find “solutions”.
The new Minister said it is evident Northern Ireland businesses have had difficulty securing finance.
Mr Hamilton said if there was an opportunity for Nama or other financial institutions to release further finance into the Northern Ireland market it should be investigated.
“We have a particular banking structure in Northern Ireland and I want to work with banks to develop positive relationships,” he said.
He said the North’s banking system had suffered due to issues beyond its control.
Mr Hamilton said it is dominated by organisations headquartered outside of the North. Bank of Ireland and First Trust are controlled from the Republic, Danske is Danish-owned and Ulster is owned by UK-based RBS.