DUBLIN—Cerberus Capital Management has emerged as the winning bidder for the National Asset Management Agency‘s $7.5-billion Project Eagle portfolio of commercial real estate loans held by borrowers in Northern Ireland. The purchase price was not disclosed; published reports have put it at around £1.1 billion, or approximately $1.825 billion. It’s the largest single transaction to date for NAMA, the Irish “bad bank” formed in 2009 to address the Republic of Ireland’s banking crisis.
NAMA’s previous high watermark was a joint venture last spring with Starwood Capital Group worth €195 million, or approximately $270 million. The Project Eagle loan portfolio is backed by approximately 850 properties across Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, including Lanyon Plaza and the Soloist building in Belfast, along with other office and retail developments, hotels and land.
“We are satisfied that the sales process will deliver the best possible result for the Irish taxpayer,” Frank Daly and Brendan McDonagh, NAMA’s chairman and CEO, respectively, say in a statement. “NAMA management of this portfolio has been measured and supportive taking into consideration the particular circumstances in the Northern Ireland economy. We are assured by Cerberus that they will adopt a similar approach.”
New York City-based Cerberus’ chairman, John Snow, says the portfolio acquisition and the underlying assets will be “an important foundation for our overall European strategy. Cerberus is a patient, long-term investor and has a well-established track record of making significant improvements to the assets that it manages. We believe Cerberus has the ideal base of expertise and experience to manage the Eagle portfolio and will be a strong partner for NAMA, for Northern Ireland and for all the stakeholders associated with this transaction.”
CoStar News reported Friday that the deal follows a prolific 2013 for Cerberus in Europe. It won five distressed loan portfolios and one direct portfolio from Lloyds Banking Group.