Robinson ‘aware’ of interest in Nama’s Northern Ireland portfolio
Pimco approach for €4bn in loans could lead to bidding war, says First Minister
Peter Robinson: has called for assets held by Nama in the North to be “liberated”, by being sold off sooner rather than later. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson has said he is “aware” of private equity interesting in acquiring the entire €4 billion Northern loan portfolio of the National Asset Management Agency.
In an interview with the BBC, Mr Robinson indicated he believed an approach by one private equity party to acquire the loans could lead to a bidding war among international investment giants.
Mr Robinson was responding to a report by The Irish Times yesterday that Pimco, the global asset management giant with close to $2 trillion under management, had approached Nama to buy its Northern Ireland portfolio, which accounts for 4 per cent of its total remaining loans.
“I am aware of the situation. It is entirely a matter for Nama. Even the Irish Government isn’t allowed to impose itself upon Nama so clearly it is a matter for them and it is better that they deal with the issues,” Mr Robinson said. “There are certain matters which will be important to Northern Ireland if any company is buying the assets of Nama which relate to Northern Ireland. We will obviously take care to ensure that Northern Irish interests are upheld.”
Mr Robinson, who last September called for assets held by Nama in the North to be “liberated”, by being sold off sooner rather than later, indicated to the BBC he was cautiously positive about the prospect of a sale.
‘Potential good news’
“It doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad news because assets are moving across. It has the potential of being good news,” he said. “They will not be the only persons out there looking to buy these assets. There will be other companies wanting to do so as well.”
Separately, Northern Ireland Finance Minister Simon Hamilton said in a statement: “While it would be inappropriate to comment on the details of press reports, the Northern Ireland Executive has maintained a positive and constructive ongoing working relationship with Nama.”
“The Executive would clearly have a significant interest on any decisions which may have an impact on the Northern Ireland economy,” he added.
“The assets which are presently held by Nama could undoubtedly be used to boost the Northern Ireland economy if they were managed in a way which unleashed their potential in the short term rather than waiting for them to realise their value in the longer term,” Mr Hamilton said.