74 acres opposite the K Club at Straffan, Kildare
Just over a week ago, the NAMA CEO disclosed at the Cantillon School of Economics in Tralee that NAMA was close to disposing of €500m of property. The comments, reported by RTE, were seized upon by many and I think it would be fair to say that in a country traumatised by a catastrophe where elites (it’s Ireland and its plural), golden circles, insiders, unverified trust between bankers/developers, political clientelism (and in extreme cases corruption), secrecy and a lack of transparency are all blamed, that the thought of NAMA disposing of such a large chunk of property aroused intense suspicion.
The day after his appearance at Cantillon the Irish Independent carried what seemed like words of clarification from the NAMA CEO and the Independent said “the agency is also preparing to sell off land worth around €500m as it tries to meet a target to dispose of a quarter of its portfolio by the end of 2013. The land will be sold by local auctioneers and those buying the land will not know that it is being sold by NAMA. The only signs that NAMA is active will be “realistic asking prices”, Mr McDonagh added.” The same day apparently a journalist at the Tribune said that the €500m disposal was of loans and not real property and there was speculation that the loans related to the Cosgrave brothers’ holding on Oxford Street, London or some part of the Maybourne group of hotels (Claridges, the Connaught and the Berkeley all in London).
And today NAMAwinelake has received a message purportedly identifying the first properties to be offered for sale by NAMA. To use journalistic terms the message is a single source and unverified. It alleged that three land holdings including one opposite the K Club in Kildare were now being sold by NAMA. Three months ago, the Irish Times carried a story in which they said that alleged-NAMA-Top-0 developer, Gerry Gannon, was selling his 49% share in the K Club. And that he was selling a 74 acre holding opposite the K Club reporting that it was likely to sell for €20-25,000 per acre. The selling agent was HT O’Meagher Reilly. At the time, the land didn’t appear on their website but it is there now. This morning, NAMAwinelake contacted HT O’Meagher Reilly and asked if NAMA was the seller of the parcel of land. A prompt response came back which ignored the question (I don’t mean to imply impoliteness, in fact the message received back was very polite indeed) of NAMA’s involvement but stated “the property has been on the market for the past 2 months and we are now hoping to bring the process to a conclusion with the top bidders within the next week .We have been guiding offers in excess of €17500 per acre.” The price shown here is considerably more than the reserve quoted in the unverified message received. With respect to the source of the message received, I obviously don’t know whether the source is connected with the sale and is trying to increase interest or whether the information is reliable, though my personal opinion is that it feels reliable.
The implication from the Independent’s story last week was that land would be disposed of by auction. However in Ireland the term real estate auctioneer is mostly interchangeable with estate agent, and what the Independent said was the land would be sold by “local auctioneers” which might not necessarily mean the land will be sold at auction.
NAMA has said that it will comply with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Agencies (2009) which states “The disposal of assets of State bodies or the granting of access to property or infrastructure for commercial arrangements e.g. joint ventures with third parties, with an anticipated value at or above a threshold level of €150,000 should be by auction or competitive tendering process, other than in exceptional circumstances (such as a sale to a charitable body). The method used should be both transparent and likely to achieve a fair market-related price.” And it would seem that there is a “competitive tendering process” going on at HT O’Meagher Reilly. There have been suggestions that all NAMA disposals should be via public auction (ebay has been suggested) and whilst some property transactions will be very complex indeed this is a subject that will be returned to on here in the near future.
Meantime, whilst recognizing that the information above is to an extent unverified and could be an elaborate attempt to drum up interest in one property, HT O’Meagher Reilly are contactable on + 353 (0) 862554060. The alleged reserve price from the unverified source suggests the land could be available at what seems like a bargain price.