Monday 9 January 2012

Bankruptcy better than Nama noose, says Grehan

RAY Grehan's decision to declare bankruptcy in the UK in the dying hours of 2011 shouldn't have taken Nama by surprise. But it did.

Today, Mr Grehan -- who famously paid €171.5m (a record €84m per acre) at the height of the boom to acquire the Veterinary College site in Ballsbridge -- explains his dramatic move, saying it puts him in a "better position to rebuild, rather than staying on and allowing Nama to prolong the agony with a noose around my neck".

By going for bankruptcy in the UK, the Glenkerrin Homes chief will have a clean bill of financial health by the end of this year. Most significantly, the €300m judgement the State's so-called 'bad bank' obtained against him here last November will not be worth the paper it is written on. And while Mr Grehan understands that there will be public anger, given that this money is owed to the taxpayer, it's an anger he believes is misdirected.

"I did not choose to go into liquidation or receivership. I worked with Nama. I signed a memorandum of understanding with them to work out our assets. We were the best-placed people to do that.

"Had they worked with us, they would have got the bulk of the money back -- probably it all -- over the eight-year plan," he claims.

The Galway-born developer's anger towards Nama becomes clearer when he is asked for his view of its chief executive Brendan McDonagh's announcement that the agency would sell a significant proportion of its UK property portfolio by 2013.

"The minute Brendan McDonagh said they were going to unload their assets in the UK over a two-year period, they wiped probably 20 per cent of the value off that portfolio. All the wealth funds in the world are looking at that.

"London is a very small market and a very specialised market. You can't go in there and put several major assets on the market at the one time. It's a very fickle market and one that you work with very carefully and quietly to sell assets," Mr Grehan says.

Read the article @ The Irish Independent

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