Mediation with Nama sought by Treasury

 

DEVELOPER TREASURY Holdings is seeking to engage in mediation with the National Asset Management Agency as an alternative to the litigation process it is embroiled in with the agency.

In a statement yesterday, Treasury called for a third party to negotiate with potential overseas investors in Irish property and loan portfolios, in order to “secure the best deal for Nama and the taxpayer”.

“We believe an independent third party mediator, of the Government’s choice and with experience of major property deals, should be appointed to negotiate in detail with foreign investors and secure the best possible deal for the taxpayer”, said John Bruder, Treasury’s managing director.

The company conceded that such an approach would probably involve a change in ownership and control of Treasury Holdings, with both shareholders, Richard Barrett and Johnny Ronan, stepping aside, but noted that mediation would be “a vastly superior outcome for all than the alternative route of litigation”.

Nama declined to comment on the proposal.

Treasury is involved in a series of legal actions with Nama, including judicial review proceedings against Nama’s decision to appoint receivers, a case which Mr Bruder says Treasury is “very confident” it will win. Nonetheless, it sees the mediation route as being preferable.

“We don’t want to spend a huge amount of time and resources in the Four Courts.

“We are open to any alternative route involving mediation or third-party negotiation in order to end this process quickly,” Mr Bruder said.

If an outside party was to come in and acquire Treasury’s loan portfolio, and therefore take control of the company, both Mr Barrett and Mr Ronan said that they would nonetheless get “satisfaction” from seeing the company, along with the 300 people it employs, kept in business.

So far Treasury has been approached by at least three separate groups interested in acquiring its assets: US investor CIM, Australian investment bank Macquairie and US property group Hines.

All of these bids involved on-going Treasury and shareholder involvement.

According to Mr Bruder, the bidders “remain out there willing to engage”, but in a series of affidavits disclosed as part of the on-going court hearings, Nama noted that it hired accountancy firm PwC to evaluate the proposals and gave extensive time to them before deeming they were not commercially acceptable.

Treasury’s latest pronouncement on its impasse with Nama follows the publication, on Tuesday, of a report that was prepared by economic consultant Peter Bacon for the property company, which called for the part-privatisation of Nama.