Banker: There were unusual features in Project Eagle deal

An international investment banker who advised Nama on the controversial multibillion-euro Project Eagle sales process has admitted there were several “unusual features” in the deal.
Banker: There were unusual features in Project Eagle deal

Patrick Long of private firm Lazard made the claim during a Dáil meeting which saw him accused of being made “an eejit of” by the state property group after his company was “kept in the dark” over serious concerns surrounding the sale.

Speaking to the cross-party Public Accounts Committee, Mr Long said while he believes no rules were broken and that a “competitive sales process” was in place throughout the deal, he accepts the structure of the deal did not stick to normal processes.

Citing a series of issues under questioning from Fine Gael TD Josepha Madigan, Mr Long said the short nature of the bidding process and the fact one firm — Pimco, which ultimately left after “success fees” with Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan became apparent — appeared to be given “preferential treatment” were unexpected.

“There were quite a lot of unusual features. The fact that there was one round of bidding for example, and the fact there were fewer participants. The fact there was a relatively tight timeframe [to draw up a bid]. These were unusual,” Mr Long said.

The banker said the deal at all times included “competitiveness” between firms.

Mr Long said it was his view that nothing legally questionable took place during the deal and that the price for the portfolio obtained by Nama “was the highest price available in the market at the time”.

However, after admitting his company knew nothing about alleged “success fees” for ex-Nama adviser Frank Cushnahan and their central involvement in why Pimco pulled out of the deal, Mr Long was told the reality is his firm was made “an eejit of” by Nama officials.

“It seems to me you were deliberately kept in the dark,” claimed Sinn Féin deputy leader and PAC member Mary Lou McDonald. “You weren’t aware of the circumstances of their [Pimco’s] withdrawal. Do you know the term ‘eejit’? You were an eejit, a patsy, they made an eejit out of you,” she said.

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