Nama to offer Mayo council Westport House loans

Agency withdraws loans secured on estate from €1bn sale to American investment fund

 

The National Asset Management Agency has withdrawn loans secured on the Westport House estate from a €1 billion sale to an American investment fund, which had threatened to close down public access to the property.

Mayo County Council is to be offered the opportunity to buy the loans, though it is not clear what valuation will be put on them by Nama. The loans are secured on more than 300 acres of land.

Mayo TD and Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring said negotiations are taking place between the local authority and Nama, but Friday’s announcement does mean, he said, that the property can be sold to a private buyer.

Project Arrow

The decision by Nama to include the Westport House debt in the Project Arrow loan sell-off caused controversy in the town, raising fears that the tourist attraction, which brings in tens of thousands of visitors annually, could be closed.

A spokesman for the owners of the house, the Browne family, said Nama had not been in contact with them. “There has been no direct engagement, but we would welcome the opportunity to sit down with them [to talk] about the future of the estate.”

Loans sold

The Project Arrow loans have been sold to Cerberus for approximately a sixth of their value, but it is not yet known if Nama will take a similar attitude to the outstanding €10 million – €6.5 million worth of original borrowings, plus interest.

“I can confirm that loans linked to lands at Westport House have been withdrawn from the Project Arrow loan sale and are the subject of discussions between Nama and Mayo County Council at present.

“I was delighted to be able to facilitate meetings between both of these bodies in recent weeks, and welcome the withdrawal of these lands from Project Arrow.

“I hope negotiations between Nama and Mayo County Council will be successful,” Mr Ring said.