North must be part of Nama - Wilson

Wed, Dec 9, 2009, 00:00

NORTHERN IRELAND’S interests must be represented in the Irish bad bank plan, the North’s Minister for Finance Sammy Wilson said yesterday.

Politicians in Northern Ireland have been concerned that commercial property prices could be depressed further if the Republic’s National Asset Management Agency (Nama) rapidly offloads its northern assets.

Mr Wilson told the Assembly that he had put forward names of individuals from his department and the financial and property markets who could sit on the Nama advisory council.

“One thing is clear, Minister [Brian] Lenihan and myself have agreed that it is in no one’s interest to have a firesale of assets located in Northern Ireland,” Mr Wilson said.

Nama has been established to manage Irish bad debts and allow banks to start lending again.

Initial estimates suggested that the value of loans that Nama might take over could be in the region of €90 billion, with a considerable element of that located in the UK, much of it in Northern Ireland.

In July, the Government announced plans to set up the asset agency.

The intention is to unwind the crashed property market in an orderly way and to allow the banks to start lending again.

The plan is supposed to involve the Government buying property loans at a discount, then managing them in such a way that the taxpayer will at least break even on the deal over about 10 years.

In return, the banks are expected to start lending again with the money that the Government has paid them for the loans.

Mr Wilson met Mr Lenihan in September to discuss the impact that Nama may have on Northern Ireland’s property market. – (PA)