Over €30 billion worth of loans were sold by Irish banks and the National Asset Management Agency last year and a new report by accountants PwC predicts at least a further €6 billion will be sold this year.

Much of that was property related debt and the Irish market accounted for almost a third of the total loan sales by European banks last year. Around €2 trillion worth of unwanted loans remain on bank balance sheets according to PwC, which said the market for loan portfolios is expected to remain buoyant for some time to come.

David Tynan, corporate finance partner with PwC, says the situation has been building up over the last five or six years and it has taken this time to get the systems in place to allow a volume of this nature to transact. Mr Tynan says it is a good thing for Ireland overall as the country is ahead of the game in terms of similar competing countries. He predicts that next year will be another strong year - with €12-15 billion of loans being transacted. By then most of the bad loans will have been taken out of the system which will allow the country to return to a more normal banking market. He suggests that the banks are more than halfway through their restructuring processes, adding that by the end of 2015 the bulk of the deleveraging will have been completed. 

Admitting that Ireland may be facing more competition, he says that the buyers have established themselves well in the Irish market over the last five or six years, they have put in place platforms and have become familiar with the regulatory and legal structures here. He says they are now willing to pay that little bit extra for Irish loans compared to the perceived better value in some of the southern European countries.  

***
MORNING BRIEFS - It is expected that quarterly figures due out this afternoon in the US will show strong growth from the world's largest economy - boosted by lower oil prices. Gross domestic product probably expanded at an annualised pace of 3% according to a survey of economists by newswire Reuters. That would be the fifth quarter out of the past sixth that the US economy has shown growth at an annual pace of 3% or higher. Contrast that with a euro zone economy which managed just over 0.5% in the third quarter.

*** Google shares fell in after-hours trading when its quarterly numbers showed a slowdown in the rate of revenue growth and negative currency effects as a weaker euro hit profits from Europe when translated back into dollars. Google's fourth quarter net revenue of $14.5 billion was $300m lower than analysts had been expecting.

Meanwhile, the company said it had cut back investment in its Google Glass project just a month after announcing it was almost ready to progress towards full commercialisation of the wearable technology. The company said the Glass headset, which enables users to access a range of internet-powered features, film what they can see and take video calls in vision, had failed to meet internal targets.