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Blackstone buys €1.8bn NAMA loans

The Project Tower portfolio acquired by the New York firm contains loans backed by assets mainly in Ireland, the UK and Germany.

The Blackstone Group has been selected by Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) as the purchaser of a €1.8 billion portfolio of real estate loans.

NAMA announced the deal in a short statement, confirming previous reports that Blackstone was favourite to buy the package in a sales process dubbed Project Tower.

The portfolio of loans being sold was initially made to Irish real estate investor, the O’Flynn Group, and since transferred to the state-backed organisation.

Assets subject to the loans are mainly located in Ireland, the UK and Germany and the transaction is expected to complete later this week, said NAMA.

Brendan McDonagh, chief executive, added that the transaction provided further evidence of the “current and continued strong investor appetite for real estate assets and property-related loans in Ireland and in other jurisdictions to which NAMA has a significant exposure”.

Since being set up in December 2009, NAMA has sold more than €16 billion worth of loans and assets including the sale of more than 7,000 individual properties mainly across Ireland and the UK.

The investment in Project Tower is being made on behalf of Blackstone’s record-breaking Real Estate Partners Europe IV, which at €5.1 billion, is the largest ever comingled opportunity fund to be raised to exclusively to invest in Europe. In this instance, UBS, the Swiss investment bank, is advising NAMA.

Just last month, NAMA announced its largest sale to date – the offloading of Project Eagle, a portfolio with a par value of £4.5 billion sold to Cerberus Capital Management. Lazard was the advisor to NAMA for that disposal.

PS: See this month’s issue of PERE for analysis of advisors to banks, governments and financial institutions looking to sell off real estate loan books and assets in Europe and next month’s issue for an extended report.