The original group of five bidders for the Project Jewel portfolio — which also includes a 50% stake in two other major Dublin shopping centres — has been reduced to just three after one bidder pulled out and another two merged.
The three finalists are a joint bid from US real estate firm Hines and Kuwait Investment Authority; the newly merged bid from Allianz Real Estate and UK Reit (real-estate investment trust) Hammerson; and the Los Angeles-based private investment firm, Colony Capital.
Other than the Dundrum Town Centre — which is Ireland’s largest shopping centre and valued at around €1.1bn — a 50% stake in both The Pavilions shopping centre in Swords and the Ilac centre on Dublin’s Henry St are also included.
Two sites also form part of the portfolio with one near the Ilac centre previously earmarked for a large retail scheme. Similar plans were also mooted for the second landbank which is adjacent to Dundrum Town Centre.
While Nama yesterday declined to comment on Project Jewel, its selection of a preferred bidder is expected to be imminent.
Separately, Finance Minister Michael Noonan has rejected a call for a stand- alone review of Nama.
In response to a call from Michael McGrath, Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesman, Mr Noonan said that, given the many oversight provisions in place for Nama, he does not intend to carry out such a review.
“I would not intend to conduct a standalone review of Nama’s role and remit prior to the next scheduled Section 227 report, which is due in 2019 — one year prior to Nama’s expected dissolution,” he said.
In a written Dáil reply, Mr Noonan said the Comptroller and Auditor General has produced three reports on Nama’s activities and they have been broadly positive.
“I note that their upcoming tri-annual review will focus on value for money and will examine some of the agency’s landmark sales processes... For large parts of the year — typically between September and May — Comptroller and Auditor General staff are based in the agency, performing their audit function, with unrestricted access to all its records and files.”
Mr Noonan also pointed out that Nama’s chairman and chief executive are also accountable to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and other Oireachtas committees.
Nama would also have to give evidence to those committees whenever required to do so. The State bad bank’s most recent appearance in front of the PAC was on July 9 this year.
Mr Noonan said Nama’s accounts are comprehensively audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
The agency is required to report to Mr Noonan each quarter with detailed information about its loans, financing arrangements, and income and expenditure.