Treasury Holdings loses case against Nama

Treasury Holdings has lost a Commercial Court challenge to Nama's decision to call in approximately €1bn worth of loans and appoint receivers.

The property developers won on certain points of their case but lost out overall because they breached an agreement made with the state agency last January not to challenge the appointment of receivers.

The court has found that Treasury Holdings had a right to be heard before Nama decided to enforce about €1bn worth of loans last December.

Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan has concluded the state agency was in breach of its obligations to act fairly and reasonably in taking that decision without considering the fact there was investor interest in the loans.

However Treasury has lost because it entered a 14-day standstill agreement with Nama last January not to oppose the appointment of receivers.

The judge has found Nama relied on that agreement to its detriment as the developers did go to court to challenge receivership and now she has ruled that it would not be equitable for Treasury to benefit from that breach, so the developers lost the case.

A Nama statement read: "Nama welcomes today’s decision from the High Court and will continue to work with the Nama-appointed receivers in this case to maximise the return to the taxpayer."

Treasury Holdings later confirmed that it will mount an appeal.

"We also note that the Judgment established the principle of the right to be heard in advance of receivers being appointed," said a statement from the company.

"In her Judgment, Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan found that: 'Nama was under a duty to act fairly and reasonably in taking the decision to enforce. Further it was in breach of that obligation by reason of its failure to hear Treasury; its failure to consider a relevant matter, namely, investor interest in the acquisition of the Treasury loans or underlying secured assets and the unfair procedure in the timing of the Credit Committee meeting on 6 December, 2011'," the statement continued.

"There were three bids from overseas investors for our loans before Nama set about appointing receivers. We understand that a new potential bidder, a major prestigious international entity, has been in touch with Nama in recent times and is preparing a bid for the loan portfolio.

"We believe a third-party negotiator should now be appointed to secure the best bid for the Treasury Holdings loans.

"Today’s Judgment does not change the central issue. Nama is tasked with getting the best deal for the taxpayer for the loans under its control including ours. There are investors out there willing to offer a far superior outcome to that offered by receivership. Those opportunities should now be taken.

"Our shareholders have said already that they recognise that any deal with foreign investors will involve their losing control of Treasury Holdings.

"However, it will ensure that the unique skills and expertise this company has will be kept together, that the 300 jobs in Treasury Holdings are safeguarded, and that this company will play an important role in Ireland’s economic recovery, providing the kind of high quality office and other accommodation that foreign investors in Ireland need and for which the IDA has said there was a looming shortage."

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