Irish ruling paves way for €73bn of loan purchases

THE Irish High Court has slapped down a challenge by property developer Paddy McKillen, paving the way for Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) to continue buying billions of euros worth of loans from distressed banks.

Lawyers for McKillen, who owns a string of luxury hotels including Dublin’s Clarence Hotel and London’s Claridge’s, had argued that NAMA did not have the proper legal authority to buy his property loans worth €2.1bn (£1.8bn) from banks participating in the government’s rescue programme.

However, the High Court ruled in favour NAMA’s argument that refusing the agency permission to buy the loans would cripple the government’s distressed assets programme and was outside the courts’ remit.

NAMA is in the process of buying up both performing and non-performing loans with a nominal value of €73bn. It expects a quarter of them to be income-producing.

McKillen had argued that because his loans were not impaired, they were not eligible for purchase. But the courts found that “the decision might be read as not requiring impairment of the borrower”. The ruling clears the way for NAMA to continue with its loan-buying programme.