Goldman ‘vulture funds’ collect €465m from distressed Irish loans

Three Irish affiliates collected over €465m on distressed Irish property loans last year

Goldman Sachs's three main Irish so-called "vulture funds" collected more than €465 million from local borrowers last year on distressed property loans, the Wall Street giant purchased from Irish banks during the recession.

The Goldman affiliates – Ennis Property Finance, Beltany Property Finance and Liffey Acquisitions, which owns Kenmare Property Finance – filed their 2017 finance results this month.

The accounts also show that that the Goldman “vultures” recorded a total of €41.5 million last year in impairment “writebacks”, which is where a previously written-down asset has its value rewritten back upwards.

Heavy writebacks are usually a sign that the market for the underlying property assets has become much more buoyant since the buyer acquired the loans; in essence, it is a partial measure of how much of a bargain Goldman received.

The heavy lifting was done by Ennis, which accounted for two-thirds of the amount collected by the funds. Ennis was part-buyer of Lloyd’s massive Project Poseidon portfolio of mixed commercial loans in 2015.

It earned €74 million last year in interest for Goldman Sachs from Irish borrowers in 2017, its accounts show, but it paid no tax as it is structured to make little or no paper profit.

Court regular

Ennis is one of the most active funds in chasing Irish borrowers through the courts, applying for 66 High Court summary judgments against borrowers so far in 2018, official records show.

It has previously taken action against Wexford accountant Alan Hynes and once sought to repossess the Clifton Court hotel in Dublin.

Liffey, incorporating Kenmare Property Finance, bought €200 million of old Anglo Irish Bank loans in the recession, and has previously taken enforcement action against borrowers such as Blarney Woollen Mills. It collected almost €52 million for Goldman from Irish borrowers last year.

Beltany was the Irish unit that Goldman Sachs used to acquire the bank loans of several major Irish builders and developers, such as Twinlite and the Rhatigan Group. Last year, the accounts show, Beltany collected €105.8 million. It also purchased more loans in 2017, adding €178 million to its portfolio.

The accounts also show that Beltany loaned cash in recent weeks to a US-based Goldman company to make fresh investments. In May, Ennis’s accounts show, it also agreed a one-off sale of €43 million of its Irish loan book.