Ulster Bank sells loan portfolio to Cerberus
The Irish Times, 10.10.16


Price paid for Project Oyster has not been disclosed but was valued at €2.5bn.


Ulster Bank has sold its €2.5 billion face value Project Oyster loan portfolio to US private equity group Cerberus.


The price paid by Cerberus for this group of non-performing loans has not been disclosed.


Some €2.15 billion of the loans were based in the Republic with the balance in Northern Ireland (about £261 million).


It is understood that 71 per cent of the portfolio relates to business loans, with 19 per cent being buy-to-let mortgages and 10 per cent being owner-occupied home loans.


All of the owner-occupied loans are believed to be in a legal process with the 900 borrowers who hold the mortgages.


Some 95 per cent of the loans are in arrears of two years or more with 88 per cent behind with their payments by three years or more.


All of the existing rights, obligations and regulatory protections of the borrowers transfer will transfer with the loans.


Commenting on the sale, an Ulster Bank spokesperson said: “Ulster Bank has confirmed the completion of a sale of a significantly impaired loan portfolio enabling the bank to strengthen its balance sheet for the benefit of its customers and provide much needed competition in the Irish banking market.


“The loans involved are all in Ulster Bank’s problem debt management unit and have been in arrears or under specialist management for a significant period of time.


“We will be in contact with all affected customers in the coming days to help them as their loans transition to their new owner.”


This is expected to the be the last of the major non-performing loan sales by Ulster Bank here and follows a number of other disposals since the end of 2013 as the company restructured its business.


In August, Ulster Bank’s chief executive in the Republic, Gerry Mallon, said the sale of Project Oyster had been delayed due to the Brexit referendum result in the UK.


Cerberus has been among the most active buyers of Irish bank loans in recent years, most notably via its controversial acquisition of Nama’s Northern Ireland portfolio Project Eagle at a discounted price of about €1.6 billion in 2014.


Last week it emerged that Cerberus had been selected as the preferred bidder for the UK-based Capital Home Loans mortgage portfolio owned by Permanent TSB. Cerberus bought roughly half of CHL’s loans last year.


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