Cerberus collects $631m on German shipping loans housed in Dublin firm

US investor uses Ireland as hub for distressed property assets from across Europe

Cerberus has set up more than 50  companies in Dublin. Photograph: iStock

Cerberus has set up more than 50 companies in Dublin. Photograph: iStock

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Cerberus Capital Management, a US buyer of distressed assets globally, uses a complicated network of Irish entities to hold loans secured on billions of euros worth of foreign assets such as ships and property in Germany, Spain and Portugal, according to a raft of company filings in Dublin this week.

Cerberus, which also bought billions of euro worth of boomtime property loans from Irish banks, appears to have also made this State a linchpin of its European operation for buying up problem bank loans in recent years. It has set up more than 50 such companies here, according to filings.

One Cerberus company, Promontoria Big Ben, which is registered to the Dublin offices of a trust company, is used to hold a €2.7 billion portfolio of shipping loans acquired from Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale, one of the largest commercial banks in Germany.

Accounts filed this week in Dublin show it collected $631 million (€545 million) on those loans last year, on top of $1 billion in 2019. It made a net gain on the shipping loans last year of $221 million, but the Irish company posted a profit of just $468,000 and paid tax of $156,000. All its figures are reported in US dollars.

Another Dublin-based Cerberus company that reported its results this week, Promontoria Indian, collected almost €46 million last year on a portfolio of distressed mortgage loans backed by properties in Portugal. Promontoria Lezama, registered to the same Dublin trust address as the others, paid €135 million for a portfolio of Spanish property loans from the Basque institution, Kutxabank. The Dublin Cerberus entity made a net gain of €25 million last year on those loans.

Promontoria La Barrossa owns Spanish property-backed assets acquired from Bankia, which was formed by the Spanish government during the crash to soak up dud mortgages. The loans housed in Ireland are now worth €9.5 million, the accounts suggest.

Promontoria Mars, another Dublin entity, made a gain last year of €13.3 million on another portfolio of Portuguese loans acquired from Caixa Geral de Depositos, a state-owned institution and that country’s second largest bank.

Other Dublin-based Cerberus entities that filed results this week shine a light on its operations in this State. Promontoria Beech, which holds distressed former AIB mortgages, collected €203 million on those loans last year, making a net gain of €74 million on the assets.

Promontoria Snow collected €36.8 million on old Bank of Ireland mortgages, making a gain of €15 million. A further €118 million was collected on old Ulster Bank mortgages, now owned by Cerberus’s Promontoria Scariff.

Many of the Irish companies are advised by another group back-office company, Cerberus European Servicing Advisers (Ireland), whose directors include former Telecom Éireann chairman, Ron Bolger, Cerberus’s senior adviser in Ireland. Its 15 employees last year shared salaries of €4.9 million, or an average of €326,000 each.