herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

'All welcome' for new housebuilding loans

Nama’s Brendan McDonagh
Nama’s Brendan McDonagh

Nama's top bosses have moved to pre-empt criticism of the agency's new role managing the Government's latest housebuilding fund, including telling the Herald that they will work with builders regardless of any previous falling-outs.

Since 2009, most of the country's main builders have had some or all of their debt in Nama and, in a significant minority of cases, fell out with the lender.

Viable

However, asked if builders who had a poor past relationship with Nama will be able to acc-ess loans from the new €750m Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI) fund, chief executive Brendan McDonagh insisted they would.

There will be "no restrictions on borrowers if they have a business case" and a "viable proposition", he said. "We've all been through a lot," he added.

In relation to criticism of Nama by some builders, chairman Frank Daly said it went with the job. "It's business, it's not personal," he said.

The agency faces a legal challenge in relation to its existing role as a lender for housebuilding.

A group of five builders whose loans are not in Nama - New Generation Homes, MKN Properties, David Daly, Paddy McKillen and Michael O'Flynn - complained to EU Competition authorities, claiming that the use of Nama to fund rival builders amounted to illegal state aid.

Nama's existing housebuilding funds have been available since 2014, but only to Nama developers.

However, under plans unveiled by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe in this week's Budget, the new HBFI vehicle will be funded with €750m from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (Isif). Nama staff will manage the money.

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