How it all unfolded: NAMA Project Eagle


How it all unfolded: NAMA Project Eagle

NIAC is set up at suggestion of late Brian Lenihan. Nama appoints Brian Rowntree and Frank Cushnahan to advisory committee. From Oct 2011, Nama chairman Frank Daly heads the NIAC until it is dissolved, in Sept 2014.

June 24, 2013:

Michael Noonan passes on a letter he had received, to Nama. The letter was sent from then NI Minister for Finance, Sammy Wilson. Mr Wilson had received a letter from Brown Rudnick saying that clients wanted to bid for the northern loans.

July 25, 2013:

Mr Noonan writes back saying he should contact Nama, adding that Nama did not favour granting exclusive access to any one bidder.

Sept 2013

: Nama receives an unsolicited approach from Brown Rudnick indicating Pimco wants to buy the loans held by Nama of northern borrowers. Pimco indicates it wants a closed transaction. Nama engages with Pimco but seeks an open bidding auction.

Late 2013:

Frank Cushnahan leaves NIAC.

Dec 4, 2013:

Pimco says it prefers a closed transaction. It subsequently submits an indicative bid with a price range £1.1bn and £1.3bn.

Dec 12, 2013:

Nama board decides on an open auction.

Jan 8, 2014:

Nama approves auction to sell Project Eagle. It sets a minimum price of £1.3bn. (In April 2014, the reserve price is decreased to £1.24bn.) Lazards appointed as Nama adviser.

Jan 17:

Nama receives letter from the Principal Private Secretary to NI First Minister Peter Robinson. Nama says the letter appears to summarise “an agreement between Pimco and the NI Executive” for the purchaser to agree in an MOU to certain conditions with the NI Government. Nama says it ignored the draft letter.

Late Jan:

It invites a roster of nine bidders — including Pimco and another huge US fund Cerberus — to bid.

Early March:

Lazards for Nama has whittled the roster of nine potential bidders to a list of three: Pimco, Cerberus and Fortress Investment.

March 10:

Pimco tells Nama that Pimco’s “proposed fee arrangement with Brown Rudnick includes also the payment of fees to Tughans and to a former external member of NIAC”. Pimco names the ex-NIAC member as Frank Cushnahan.

Pimco subsequently tells Nama that there was a fee of £15m to be split three ways: Brown Rudnick, the Tughans’ managing partner Ian Coulter, and Frank Cushnahan.

March 11:

Nama says its board meets and decides that the planned fee arrangement warrants withdrawal of Pimco from the bidding process.

March 12:

Nama says it told Pimco of its “serious concerns” about the fee arrangement proposals and “in particular” the proposed fee payment to Frank Cushnahan.

March 13:

Pimco withdraws from the Project Eagle bidding process. (In a statement to the Irish Examiner on Monday: *Pimco said it was one of a number of firms approached by third parties to gauge potential interest in purchasing the Project Eagle portfolio, but that none of the third parties were appointed as advisers to Pimco.

*Pimco said it identified concerns about the role of the third parties.)

April 3:

Cerberus bids £1.241bn and Fortress bids £1.1bn. Cerberus wins Project Eagle. The official figures emerge much later. Cerberus has paid a discounted price of €1.6bn for the loans worth €5.7bn at face value.

April 4:

NI First Minister Peter Robinson welcomes the sale as “excellent news for the Northern Ireland economy.” He thanks Nama and Michael Noonan “for the constructive way they have worked with the NI Executive over the sale.”

January 2015:

Ian Coulter unexpectedly resigns as managing partner of Tughans in Belfast.

July 2:

Mick Wallace, independent TD, speaking in the Dáil details serious allegations about the sale — an alleged payment to a unnamed NI politician.

July 3:

PSNI says it has had no report and is not investigating any issue.

July 3-July 5, 2015:

Nama details the Project Eagle sales process in 2014: *Nama told one of the bidders it would have to withdraw because of a fee arrangement to parties that included a former member of NIAC. Mr Cushnahan was not a member at the time of the sale and never had access to confidential information. Cerberus paid the highest price. Cerberus confirmed again that no fees were paid to any party that ever had a relationship with Nama. Nama says that Tughans’ issue has no relevance to its competitive bid process. It states it is fully satisfied that the process delivered the best possible return for Irish taxpayers.

July 5:

Cerberus says it is deeply concerned by the allegations made by Mick Wallace. “Specifically, we engaged Brown Rudnick as our lawyers to supplement our primary legal team from Linklaters and assist us in our bid for Project Eagle. We have had a long standing relationship with Brown Rudnick in the US. They informed us that they had been previously working with another interested party that was no longer involved in the process. We were not aware, and we were not made aware, of the reasons why their former client was no longer involved...Brown Rudnick informed us that they wanted to retain Tughans as a NI-based legal firm to supplement its work. In our engagement letter with Brown Rudnick, we received certifications, representations and warranties covering a number of issues including compliance with all laws and regulations including the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the UK Bribery Act.”

July 6

: Brown Rudnick confirms to the Irish Examiner that it was involved with a previous bidder in the sales process. “Brown Rudnick was then engaged by Cerberus in connection with its bid. We in turn, engaged Tughans to assist us as local counsel in this transaction...we agreed in a formal mandate letter to share with Tughans our fee from Cerberus and this arrangement was disclosed to both Cerberus and Nama.”

July 7:

NI Finance Committee starts investigations.

July 8:

The PSNI starts investigating matters related to the Project Eagle sale.

July 9:

Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee meets. Members ask why Nama did not call off the sale last year. Nama chairman Frank Daly says Nama had learned from Pimco that £15m in legal and other fees were to be split between Brown Rudnick, Tughans ex-managing partner Ian Coulter, and Frank Cushnahan. PAC chairman John McGuinness says it was “ill-judged” that the sale was not ended..

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