Treasury challenges Nama receivers bid

Treasury Holdings gave an “unequivocal” undertaking earlier this month not to bring a legal challenge to the appointment of receivers over several of its assets if Nama allowed a two-week “standstill” period which Nama had given, the High Court was told yesterday when Treasury’s challenge to those receivers came before the court.

Cian Ferriter SC, for the agency, said he was instructed to put the point about the January 10 “standstill” agreement on the court record.

Michael Cush SC, for Treasury, said his side did not agree but that issue would be determined in due course.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nichoas Kearns, said: “We’ll see what happens”.

The Treasury bid to prevent Nama appointing David Hughes and Luke Charleton as joint receivers to various assets owned by it here will be heard next month. It is understood there is an agreement by the receivers not to take steps to sell assets before that.

The proceedings were initiated this week by Treasury and 22 related companies after Nama told Treasury it intended to appoint joint receivers to assets in Ireland, including the PricewaterhouseCoopers head office in Spencer Dock, the Alto Vetro building on Barrow Street, and the Central Park office complex near Leopardstown.

After discussions between lawyers yesterday about management of the proceedings, Mr Cush told the judge the sides had agreed terms and undertakings between themselves in a context where they wanted an early hearing date of February 21.

When the judge asked did the court need to know those terms and undertakings, counsel said it did not.

Mr Justice Kearns was also told by Mr Cush the sides had agreed a timetable for the exchange of legal documents necessary for the hearing on February 21.

It had yet to be decided whether that would be a hearing of an interlocutory application or the full case, counsel said. It was anticipated injunction proceedings would take four days, he added.

The companies are also seeking leave to bring a judicial review challenge to the actions of Nama. They are alleging the receivers’ appointment is unjustified, in breach of their right to fair procedures and makes no commercial sense.

Treasury claims the actions of Nama could have a domino effect within the group, threatening its survival in circumstances where it employs 300 people here and 100 others outside Ireland. It said discussions with two investors were at a relatively advanced but sensitive stage and any attempts by Nama to move to an enforcement process on foot of demands issued on January 11 would have “catastrophic” consequences for Treasury’s business.

The State, KBC Bank, Irish Bank Resolution Corporation and the joint receivers are all expected to be joined as notice parties to the case.

Nama moved on Wednesday to enforce repayment of Treasury’s loans to the agency. It is understood Nama paid €900 million for loans with a face value of €2bn but those figures are disputed by Treasury.

Treasury had been negotiating with external investors concerning the affected assets and said earlier this week it was “extremely disappointed” Nama had called in its loans.

A spokesman for Nama said it had “engaged rigorously” with Treasury since 2010 but the group’s proposals were not commercially acceptable.

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