Three so-called “vulture funds” affiliated with Goldman Sachs collected €390 million from their portfolios of Irish distressed property loans in 2019 but incurred no corporation tax charges.
Beltany Property Finance, Ennis Property Finance and Liffey Acquisitions, which owns Kenmare Property Finance, owned loans valued on their books at a combined total of €507.6 million at the end of the year, according to accounts filed in recent days for the three funds. The headline, or gross, value of those loans was listed at more than €766 million.
The three funds bought up portfolios of distressed Irish property loans following the last financial crash from banks such as Lloyds' Bank of Scotland (Ireland) and, more recently, Belgian bank KBC.
Beltany, the biggest of the three funds, has owned loans attached to properties such as the former Fairview, Dublin, home of 1916 revolutionary leader Thomas Clarke and his wife, Kathleen Clarke, a leader of Cumann na mBan. It subsequently sold the loan on the property to Pepper Property Finance. It has also owned loans secured on the Aut Even private hospital in Kilkenny.
Kenmare/Liffey's portfolio has previously included loans attached to the Aberdeen Lodge hotel in Dublin 4, while it also once owned loans owned by Blarney Woollen Mills. Ennis's accounts say it is more focused on residential loans, with its debtors including the late concert promoter John Reynolds.
The three funds incurred no tax charges after recording heavy losses in their accounts due to interest they paid to loan-note holders as part of complex, tax efficient structures designed on behalf of the Goldman-linked entities.
Beltany’s losses for 2019 were listed as €12.1 million, although it collected €70 million in interest income from its loan portfolio. Liffey collected total of €27.2 million from its loan portfolio but also made a €6.8 million accounting loss, while Ennis made a loss of €5.9 million despite collecting €115.7 million on its portfolio.
Although they were set up in 2014 after the last crash, the funds were still active in acquiring new loan portfolios in 2019. Ennis spent €130 million on fresh loans in March that year, while Beltany spent €22 million nine months later.
None of the funds have any employees, with all of the asset management and loan servicing functions outsourced to other providers. The funds all say the value of the underlying properties upon which the loans are secured have proven “resilient” throughout the Covid crisis.
Despite the market value of many of the underlying properties having increased significantly since the first purchases were made in 2014, as the market boomed, all three funds record huge shareholder deficits on the balance sheet, as a result of the complex financing arrangements and loan notes.