Bidders line up as Irish banks plan further loan sales

Irish banks are stepping up disposals of non-core assets. Allied Irish Banks is under-stood to be talking to Merrill Lynch about selling €260m of continental property loans. It agreed to sell around $1bn of US loans to Blackstone and Wells Fargo earlier this month. Blackstone took about half of the portfolio at a discount in  the region of 15%. Wells Fargo bought the rest at a 7% discount.

Anglo Irish Bank is seeking a buyer for $10.3bn of US real estate debt, backed by about 250 properties. Over half of the loans are sub-performing or non-per-forming. Blackstone, TPG Capital and Deutsche Bank’s RREEF are thought to be potential bidders. The bank also sold a £300m book of Scottish loans to asset manager Urbicus, backed by a US hedge fund. The 78 loans are secured on secondary residential, hotel, retail and office property.

Urbicus was formed this year and includes former Anglo Irish Bank originator Marcus Rennie. Bank of Ireland recently sold its real estate investment management arm, with €1.6bn of assets under management, to US real estate asset manager Kennedy Wilson. Peter Collins left Bank of Ireland and will run the business from a new European office for the US firm.

Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency may also consider offloading US exposure – 3% of the €72.3bn of property loans it took on are located there. It has already confirmed its intention to dispose of its UK portfolio over the next two years, which has a €19bn loan book face value and is secured on property worth €9bn.