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Wells Fargo, JPMorgan, Loan Star win Anglo Irish loans: sources

Pedestrians walk past a branch of Anglo Irish Bank in Dublin
Pedestrians walk past a branch of Anglo Irish Bank in Dublin

By Ilaina Jonas

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Lone Star Funds were the winners of the $9.5 billion pool of U.S. commercial real estate loan sold by failed lender Anglo Irish Bank Corp, two sources familiar with the deal said.

The sale marks one of the biggest since the downturn in U.S. commercial real estate four years ago.

It attracted more than two dozen buyers, said a source who was not authorized to speak on the record. The total price paid for all the loans was between $7 billion and $8 billion, the source said.

To attract a large pool of potential buyers, the portfolio was broken into eight separate pools according to the performance of the loans and the length to maturity.

The first three pools contained performing loans. JPMorgan was the winner of the first tranche comprising loans with a balance of about $1 billion to $1.5 billion, the source said.

Wells Fargo won the second and third tranches valued at about $3 billion to $3.5 billion, the source said. Wells Fargo recently bought a $1.4 billion performing loan portfolio from the failed Bank of Ireland for about par, another source said.

Global distressed debt and equity investor Lone Star won the remaining five pools of sub-performing and non-performing loans. The five pools have a face value of about $5 billion.

Those loans, which could lead to the buyer either getting the property or restructuring the loans, had attracted other private equity firms, such as TPG Capital LP and Blackstone Group LP.

The winners were notified Thursday night, another source said. Bloomberg first reported the story.

The sales are expected to close in October.

The pools have also been split along the lines of real estate types -- hotels, apartments, condominiums, offices and warehouses, according to an information sheet obtained by Reuters.

Anglo Irish and a spokesman for JPMorgan declined to comment. Representatives from Loan Star and Wells Fargo could not be reached for comment.

Other bidders who were either part of the first or second round of bids included Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Deutsche Bank AG, Vornado Realty Trust, Starwood Capital, and Torchlight Investors, an independent adviser focused on commercial real estate debt investments.

Anglo Irish was one of the most aggressive lenders during the U.S. commercial real estate boom of 2003-2007, but its risk strategy brought it and the Irish economy to the brink of collapse and forced Dublin to seek an 85 billion euros EU-IMF bailout last year.

Once the darling of the Irish stock market, Anglo Irish was nationalized in 2009 and is being wound down, after selling its deposits to former rivals and having ceased lending.

Its U.S. portfolio is its premium stock of assets, and a successful sale would represent a huge boost for the Irish government, which has vowed to radically shrink its banking sector and reduce its reliance on emergency funding from the European Central Bank (ECB).

The loans to be sold are secured by a diverse group of more than 280 properties, including office buildings in Massachusetts and retail properties in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

It also includes apartment buildings in New York City and Boston, warehouses and gas stations in the Midwest, and hotels from Florida to Maine.

(Additional reporting by Carmel Crimmins an Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Editing by Vinu Pilakkott)

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