A DONEGAL businessman has purchased the loan book for one of Donegal’s top golf courses from a US ‘vulture fund’.
The future of Narin and Portnoo Golf Club was uncertain when its loans were transferred by Ulster Bank to US investment firm Cerberus last year.
Quite a lot of money was borrowed in recent years for developments, both on and off the course, and at the time members expressed concern as to what the future holds.
Earlier this month, more than one hundred members gathered in the club for an Special Emergency Meeting.
“All we do know at this stage is that Liam McDevitt, originally from Ballyshannon but now living in New York, has bought the loan from Cerberus.
“However, members have expressed concern as to what Mr McDevitt’s plans are for Narin. Some aren’t prepared to roll over and hand everything over while others are of the opinion that it doesn’t really matter who owns the course as long as they can play golf,” a source within the club explained.
“Four fifths of the land and the clubhouse is now owned by Mr McDevitt with the remaining portion of land owned by a local family who have given the club a twenty year lease – which runs until 2023 – with the club having an option to renew that lease.
“If the new owner tries to force his way through, the club still have the lease on the land and it’s up to him to negotiate with the members,” the source added.
Members of the club’s officer board are due to meet with Mr McDevitt in the coming weeks to discuss the future of the club.
“Once we know more, the club officers and council will be told and, in turn, members will be fully briefed through another Special Emergency Meeting which will be called in the coming weeks,” the source said.
Last autumn, Ulster Bank announced that it had sold 900 owner-occupier mortgages, which are on the brink of repossession, to US investment firm Cerberus.
A total of 95 per cent of the mortgages are two years or more in arrears, while all of the loans are the subject of legal action by the lender.
Ulster Bank said the sale of the portfolio, known as Project Oyster, would enable it “to strengthen its balance sheet for the benefit of its customers and provide much needed competition in the Irish banking market”.
Typically mortgages of this kind are bought by foreign funds at substantial discounts. How the homeowners will be dealt with will be up to Cerberus.
The amount paid by the US firm to acquire the loans was not disclosed at the time.
The loans are part of a larger portfolio, which had a face value of €2.5 billion.
€2.15 billion of the loans are based in the Republic of Ireland, with the remainder (about €300m) based in Northern Ireland.
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