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Earlsfort Goes To The Aid of NAMA Debtors

The company, which was founded last year by bankers Fergal Feeney and Paul Brophy, has also secured a second funding tranche of €300m from its US hedge- fund backers Garrison to finance future deals.

In total, Earlsfort has so far invested €300m in 15 deals, with most falling between €10m and €50m in size. Last month, it closed its first deal in the UK and it is now actively seeking opportunities in the UK and the rest of Europe, as well as Ireland.

The company has been able to help a number of ex-National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) debtors. At the start of the year, Newry-based Parker Green refinanced with Earlsfort in a deal that owner Gerard O’Hare described as a “red letter day” and this summer, Derry-based housing developer McGinnis Group made similar comments after refinancing assets with Earlsfort that were formerly controlled by NAMA and then Cerberus.

Earlsfort typically steps in after a loan portfolio is sold from NAMA or a bank and works with the borrower to acquire the debt from the portfolio’s buyer, invariably a US private equity fund.

Feeney said: “For many, it means that after five or six years sitting across the table with a lender who was restricted from making commercial decisions about their portfolio, they now have the opportunity to deal with a new lender who has acquired their debt at today’s market value. Hence the likelihood of a deal being agreed is significantly increased.”

There was still significant activity to come, he added: “Our view is that there are 12 to 18 months of activity left in this space. Lloyds and RBS have sold most of their non-core Irish loan portfolios. The remaining deleveraging to happen is from the NAMA portfolio and our funding activity is linked to that deleveraging.”

As well as refinancing deals, Earlsfort is looking to offer acquisition finance and expand further into Europe.