PRIVATE EQUITY SALE OF ULSTER BANK MOOTED – The Irish Examiner reports that a management-supported private equity takeover of Ulster Bank is being considered by Royal Bank of Scotland.

The broad outline of the deal would see a private equity firm, most likely either KKR or Apollo, take over Ulster Bank, with the current management team, led by chief executive Jim Brown, staying in place.

The price would be in the range of €500m to €2.5bn, depending on what assets are included, according to one person with knowledge of the negotiations.

However, the viability of this potential deal depends on RBS taking over some of Ulster Bank’s distressed assets and providing an indemnity against future losses. RBS is 82% owned by the British government, which would make an indemnity against future losses politically sensitive.

It is believed that John Duffy, vice chairman of the New York-based investment firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, is acting as an adviser on the deal. Mr Duffy did not return any requests for a comment. Morgan Stanley is advising RBS.

Negotiations have taken place over recent months, but they have been put into abeyance while RBS completes an internal review of its operations.

Ulster Bank in the North would be integrated into the NatWest network, which is also part of the RBS Group.


NAMA PURSUING KELLEHER FOR €47M – The Irish Times reports that the National Asset Management Agency is pursuing businessman Garrett Kelleher for some €46.8 million in summary judgment orders. 

They arise mainly from a limited guarantee relating to loans made by Anglo Irish Bank for developments in Ireland, the US and Belgium.

NAMA claims some €350 million is outstanding under those loans and Mr Kelleher is liable under guarantee for €40 million.

Mr Kelleher will contend he was assured he would not be pursued under his guarantee given his “extensive co-operation” with NAMA, his counsel Michael Cush SC told the Commercial Court.

The agency is also seeking summary judgment against Mr Kelleher for an additional €6.8 million arising from facilities advanced to CWD Properties Ltd from 2005 in connection with a scheme at Cratloe Woods, Limerick.

The €40 million claim against Mr Kelleher, with an address at Herbert Park, Ballsbridge, Dublin, arises from his guarantee, limited to some €50 million of the liabilities of some companies of the Shelbourne Connection. 

Some €10 million was recovered due to NAMA calling in a guarantee of a company with the effect, NAMA claims, Mr Kelleher remains liable for some €40 million.

Developments linked with the Shelbourne Connection include the Spire in Chicago, Nama said.


IRISH FIRM SIGNS CASINO DEAL – The Irish Independent reports that GameAccount Network, the gambling software firm headed by Dermot Smurfit Jnr, has signed a deal to provide a simulated gaming system to Pennsylvania's Parx Casino.

The agreement comes as Pennsylvania debates the introduction of legalised online gambling. New Jersey was the first US state to approve it last year. Nevada and Delaware also permit online gaming.

GameAccount Network has already signed other deals with casino operators in the US as they anticipate the continuing legalisation of online betting.

Parx Casino is owned by Greenwood Racing and the resort includes a racetrack. Parx has a 30pc share of the eastern Pennsylvania casino market, where there are five resorts.

There are a total of 12 casino properties in Pennsylvania.

Parx operates over 3,000 slot machines at its property, as well as 150 table games.

Between them, they generated $478m (€355m) in gaming revenues in the 12 months to the end of June.