Northern Ireland

Cerberus buys property loans portfolio from Ulster Bank

The US investment fund Cerberus has agreed to buy another portfolio of property loans from Ulster Bank.

Cerberus paid £205m for the portfolio, called Project Rathlin, which had a face value of £1.4bn.

The portfolio is understood to include the defaulted loan relating to the 16-acre Sirocco Works site in east Belfast.

Another of the loans is understood to relate to the planned Royal Exchange project in Belfast city centre.

In a statement to the Stock Exchange, Ulster Bank's parent company RBS said this would be the "final material transaction" in Northern Ireland for its internal "bad bank".

That represents a significant milestone for Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland as it means it has now got rid of all the large boomtime property loans that it no longer wants.

Previous transactions saw it sell loans to Cerberus, Davidson Kempner and Bank of Ireland.

In other cases the bank oversaw the agreed sale of properties by some major borrowers.

The deal also cements the dominant position of Cerberus in the Northern Ireland commercial property market.

As well as its previous purchase of Ulster Bank loans, Cerberus bought the entire Northern Ireland loan portfolio of the Irish government's National Asset Management Agency (Nama).

Cerberus is now rapidly working through the Nama portfolio.

Two major borrowers are known to have have refinanced their Cerberus loans, while a number of other borrowers have also been put into administration or receivership.

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