Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh said he expects to be able to recommend a preferred bidder to develop the former Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend in Dublin 4 by the end of this month.
“We got four submissions on the 20th of April. We are working through those,” Mr McDonagh told reporters at a briefing on Nama’s 2019 annual report, without naming the parties involved. “We hope to get this to the board sometime in late July.”
Sean Mulryan’s Ballymore Group and US real estate group Hines have been among parties vying to take an 80 per cent stake in the 37-acre site, which was expected to achieve €130 million before Covid-19 struck earlier this year.
Developer Johnny Ronan’s Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) and Los Angeles-based property company Colony Capital also submitted an initial bid last year to partner Nama in building 3,500 homes, 25 per cent of which are earmarked for social and affordable housing, as well as offices and shops on the site.
Nama had receivers appointed to two separate parts of the site between 2011 and 2012 as the owners ran into financial trouble. A company called Becbay, backed by developer Bernard McNamara, property financier Derek Quinlan and State agency the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, owned most of the land at that time. A company linked to boom-era developer Liam Carroll held the remainder.
In its annual report, Nama said it has shrunk by 96 per cent the size of the €32 billion balance sheet it started off with a decade ago by selling off the loans and property of many borrowers that were in default and working with others to maximise returns for taxpayers.
It has been left with loans with a carrying value of €1.23 billion out to 198 debtors as of the end of March, 124 of whom Nama was supporting or offering forbearance to. The remaining 74, or 37 per cent, were subject of enforcement action, including receivership, repossession or other legal proceedings, to recover owed money.
Nama paid a discounted amount of €32 billion, by way of senior and junior bonds, to buy more than €74 billion of risky property loans belonging to five Irish banks. In the past four months the so-called bad bank redeemed the final portion of junior bonds, leaving it debt free, as well as shares held by a group of private investors in a Nama special purpose vehicle (SPV). This SPV was designed to keep the agency’s debt off the government’s balance sheet at the height of the financial crisis.
The redemptions paved the way for Nama to start paying over the estimated €4 billion lifetime surplus. Some €2 billion was handed over to the exchequer this week, with a further €2 billion earmarked for transfer over the next two years, it said. The agency is scheduled to be wound down by 2025.
Nama posted €265 million of net income last year, its ninth consecutive year of profitability. Total cash generated from 2010 to end-2019 was €45.3 billion, including €39 billion from asset disposals and €6.3 billion from non-disposal income, it said.
Nama’s remit to increase housing supply in a dysfunctional market has seen it and its borrowers deliver 17,380 new homes since 2014, of which 11,860 were funded by the agency, it said.
A further 2,250 units are under construction or approved for funding, while planning permission has been secured for an additional 6,200 units.
The agency said that all of its original interests in the special development zone in Dublin’s docklands, representing 4.2m sq ft (380,200 sq m) of commercial space and 2,200 apartments, are either under construction, complete, sale agreed or have been sold with planning permission, it said.
Mr McDonagh said that there continues to be demand for office space being developed, despite the Covid-19 shock. “There really hasn’t been any big adjustment in office pricing as of yet. But that’s not to say there won’t be,” he said.
However, he noted that “it’s no secret” that the retail sector is “very distressed” at the moment. He said that Nama has “very low exposure” to property let out to retailers.
Nama sees Covid-19 having a “material impact” on its cash generation this year. It said, for example, a 5 per cent decline in property values would equate to a €72 million charge, while a three-month delay in realising proceeds from debtor loans could result in a further €32 million profit hit.
Still, Mr McDonagh said he was confident about the €4 billion lifetime surplus target, or “hopefully a bit more if everything goes right”.