Seen &Heard: Investec mortgage plans on hold

Concerns about potential default cited


Plans by South African bank Investec to offer up to €300 million in mortgages in the Irish market have been put on hold, according to the Sunday Independent.

The paper said that recent changes in the insolvency regime here, in particular the increased difficulty for banks in repossessing homes, had given it pause for thought.

While Investec remains interested in the Irish market, the paper cited sources expressing concern about the ability of the bank to get its money back if loans defaulted. It also cited the rising cost of litigation in the area, which would have to be priced into mortgages.

Investec announced its intention to enter the Irish market last August, becoming the first new lender on the domestic scene since the financial crisis erupted in 2008.

It had been looking at offering low-priced variable rate mortgages – something that would be possible as its Irish balance sheet was not weighed down with the legacy debt afflicting other players in the market.

Bord Gáis seeks better offer
Advisers for Bord Gáis Éireann are in discussions with bidders for the company to see if any is willing to increase its offer for the business, the Sunday Business Post reported.

The Government announced that none of the bids received had been sufficiently high to secure the business and it had been thought that any sale had
then been placed on the back-burner.

However, it is understood, according to the Post, that the State remains open to doing a deal if a better offer emerges from any of those involved in the process.

Northern Ireland energy business Viridian, US private equity business Blackstone and a consortium of UK energy player Centrica and Canada’s Brookfield, are thought to have submitted final bids of between €1 billion and €1.1 billion as part of the formal sale process.

The Government will be looking for a bid closer to its original target of€1.5 billion.

Bergman joins Arnotts list
The list of named parties interested in Dublin retail group Arnotts continues to grow, with the Sunday Times reporting yesterday that London-based property investor Meyer Bergman was among those looking to acquire the group’s €230 million IBRC debt.

The paper reports that Bergman had originally teamed up with Arnotts management to buy out both of the retailer’s loans, including the IBRC debt.

The paper said yesterday that Bergman would not comment on the status of its relationship with Arnotts executives at this point.

Bergman joins Fitzwilliam Finance Partners, an investment company headed by developer Noel Smyth, and Galen Weston-owned Selfridges, which is believed to have funded Fitzwilliam’s acquisition of €140 million in Arnotts debt from Ulster Bank last week.