Take a step back from today’s announcement of NAMA’s final results for 2010 which revealed a €1.1bn loss in its first full year’s operation. Okay, we have gotten used to billion-euro-plus losses with our banks – in fact Anglo Irish Bank’s loss for 2010 was €17bn, which made the top 15 global corporate losses in history; but in the league table of Irish corporate results, a €1bn loss is exceptional.
NAMA was created with a clean slate in December 2009 and it acquired loans using stringent valuation and due diligence standards. Perhaps it should be surprising, even shocking, therefore that the agency has racked up such a large loss in its first year of operation. Indeed were it not for NAMA’s accounting treatment of part of the consideration it pays the banks – the subordinated bonds which will only be honoured if NAMA makes a profit – then NAMA might have been forced into a position today of asking the Government for further capital of at least €1bn.
It is an astounding loss.
It mostly arises from the fact that NAMA chose the 30th November, 2009 as its “valuation date” which means that the underlying property securing the loans acquired by NAMA, was valued by reference to values pertaining at that date. And in Ireland, the country where most of the property securing NAMA’s loans is located, both commercial and residential markets have tanked since November 2009. And not just in 2010 – there is some evidence to suggest that subsequent to the NAMA year end, the decline has accelerated; for example the 5.7% decline in commercial property prices in quarter two of 2011 was the biggest quarterly decline since NAMA was created, and the property industry is saying that commercial property will decline a further 20-30% if expected changes are made in the Autumn to abolish Upward Only Rent Review leases. Of the €1.1bn losses reported today, €1.485bn comes from revaluing loans at the end of 2010 and as bad as those figures are, the 2011 losses might be considerably worse and the betting on here is that NAMA will indeed need additional capital from the State at the end of 2011 to cover what is likely to then be a substantial negative capital position.