NAMA SELLING MASSIVE HOLD IN THE GROUND FOR $92.8m - The National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) is set to sell a prime parcel of Chicago property that was the site of an ill-fated project to build North America's tallest residential building, writes the Irish Independent. NAMA is selling a bad loan made to Dublin-based Shelbourne Development Group, which has dug an enormous hole to build the foundations of the planned Chicago Spire. The loan, with a balance of $92.8m (€71.2m), comes with the right to develop the 2.18-acre site on the bank of the Chicago River in downtown Chicago. The site, which is in one of Chicago's most expensive neighbourhoods, could support a $1 billion project, a source said. The Chicago Spire, which was envisioned to have 150 storeys, was designed by celebrity architect Santiago Calatrava. But Shelbourne saw the project run into financial trouble during the credit crisis and defaulted on the loan in 2010. Anglo Irish Bank, which financed the deal, was left with the bad loan that was secured by the property.
RECEIVER APPOINTD TO MUCKROSS PARK HOTEL - Bill Cullen and Jackie Lavin, owners of the five-star Muckross Park Hotel, have said they are “shocked” by the decision of its major creditor ACC Bank to appoint a receiver to the hotel, writes the Irish Times. The Co Kerry hotel will continue to trade as normal and no jobs will be lost, according to a joint statement issued by the receiver, Declan Taite of accounting firm RSM Farrell Grant Sparks, and the bank yesterday. All deposits and gift vouchers will be honoured. The hotel, located in Killarney’s National Park, employs 105 people and has 68 bedrooms and 24 luxury apartments. “Bill and Jackie were shocked by the aggressive actions of ACC who moved into the business with absolutely no prior warning,” a statement issued on their behalf read. The bank had recently congratulated them for “doing an amazing job” in restoring the business to profitability at a time when so many hotels are closing, the statement continued. “We will do all in our power to preserve the 105 jobs at the Muckross Park Hotel.” The receiver was appointed to Muckross Park Hotel Ltd, the related companies Boisdale Holdings Ltd and Silvermire Properties Ltd and certain assets held by Mr Cullen.
IIF CRITICISES 'ONE SIZE FITS ALL' AUSTERITY POLICY - Ireland will successfully exit the bailout programme later this year thanks to its flexible workforce in the private sector and the US export market, the international bankers’ body, the Institute of International Finance claimed. But they were critical of the “one size fits all” approach to the EU’s austerity programmes, while the austerity policies of Germany and other budget hawks took a beating from trade unions as EU leaders battled to restore growth, says the Irish Examiner. Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council were warned that they were pursuing suicidal policies by the president of the European Trade Union Congress (ETUC), Ignacio Toxo. The Institute of International Finance (IIF) showed that just because the troika recipe appeared to be succeeding in Ireland, it could not be applied to all countries. They called for more time and more money for Greece, and in a detailed research note showed that the reason Ireland is back in favour with the bond markets is because of the load carried by private sector workers and its US exports and investors. A very angry ETUC president at the social summit preceding the leaders’ meeting in Brussels, warned them that they were “living in a parallel universe” and said there were no green shoots of growth as they claim.
JPMORGAN ACCUSED OF LYING OVER $6 BILLION LOSS - JPMorgan Chase “misled investors” before “lying to investigators” about its $6 billion trading losses, John McCain, the senior Republican on the US Senate panel investigating the affair, has alleged. The Financial Times says that Mr McCain’s comments came on Thursday as the Senate subcommittee published its bipartisan findings into the trading, risk management failures and subsequent disclosures that marked last year’s so-called “London whale” episode. The 300-page report hones in on disclosures by Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan, and Doug Braunstein, who resigned as chief financial officer after the affair came to light. Mr Dimon had initially played down the significance of credit derivatives trading activity in the bank’s London chief investment office during an earnings call in April last year, saying it was “a tempest in a teapot”. However, the Senate report found that he was “already in possession of information about the . . . complex and sizeable portfolio, its sustained losses for three straight months, the exponential increase in those losses during March and the difficulty of exiting the . . . positions”. Additional disclosures from Mr Braunstein, now a vice-chairman at the bank - including that regulators were given “information on those positions on a regular and recurring basis” - are described in the report as “inaccurate at best, and deceptive at worst”.