Draft legislation to establish the National Asset Management Agency has been approved at the last Cabinet meeting before the summer break, and is to be published on Thursday

A Cabinet meeting yesterday heard a detailed presentation from Finance Minister Brian Lenihan on the provisions of the Bill, which runs to some 150 pages. Ministers continued their discussions this evening.

The NAMA legislation should pass all stages into law by mid September.

THE NTMA - under whose aegis the new body will operate - has already completed much of the preparatory work for NAMA.

It is anticipated that it will take over the loan books of 50 of the country's largest developers - worth €30 billion in total - by the end of the year.

Some observers have claimed that when fully operational the agency will manage the largest property portfolio in the world, with a book value of some €80 billion.

Much interest will centre on how the legislation values impaired loans. It is likely the NTMA will transfer the assets of the 50 biggest developers before the end of the year and value their portfolios individually.

This process should indicate what discount the taxpayer will receive for impaired loans.