By Paddy Delaney
It has recently come to light that approximately 90% of NAMA property sales have gone to US vulture funds, with domestic funds and individual buyers accounting for a further 7% of the sales. These ruthless, profiteering outfits have picked over the bones of the property crash and are now buying up portfolios at knock down prices in order to sell them on when the time is right and realise mega profits.
The government has facilitated them at every turn in their quest to enrich themselves, with Finance Minister Michael Noonan and other officials from the Department of Finance meeting with representatives of 19 different funds on 28 occasions in the past year. They are engaged in a quick fire sale in the hope of gaining some political capital by winding NAMA up early in advance of the next general election
A “who’s-who?” of the global & Irish elite
The major players in these funds are like a “who’s-who?” of the global and Irish elite:
George Soros is the chairman of ‘Soros Fund Management’, who met for talks in Oct 2014. Soros is the 27th richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $26.5bn and is the world’s richest hedge fund manager.
Chairman of “Apollo Management”, who met in February 2014, is Leon Black. He has an estimated net worth of $5.8bn and thought nothing of splashing $120m on a painting of Edvard Munch’s The Scream to hang in his private collection in 2012.
“Cerberus Capital Management“ met in March 2014. It has more than $20bn under its management globally, counts former George H.W. Bush Vice President Dan Quayle and Bush Jr. Treasury Secretary John Snow on its board of directors and is advised in Ireland by Larry Goodman associate Ron Bolger.
Noonan and his colleagues had plenty of time to spare for the various breeds of indigenous Irish vultures too. “Broadhaven Capital Partners” – the new venture of Dermot Desmond, Ireland’s seventh richest person with wealth of approximately €1.45bn – met with the Department of Finance on no less than three occasions to discuss NAMA deals in the last twelve months. “Kildare Partners” – headed up by billionaire tycoon Ellis Short – had meetings on two occasions. When Mr. Short isn’t overseeing the plunder of NAMA properties he likes to relax in his $40m Florida home.
End speculation now
A whole raft of government and state departments now rent office and parking spaces owned by these vulture funds and private speculators, who are making $87m per annum from this. The $1.2tn valued “PIMCO” alone pockets $5m in office rents from the HSE, Gardaí and three government departments (Justice, Agriculture and Social Protection). Instead of selling properties off to speculators they should be brought into public ownership and, in combination with a programme of building public housing, used to tackle the housing waiting lists and homelessness crisis.