Brattle experts support Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz in dispute between Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency and successful property manager Patrick McKillen.
Ireland’s economy, once rapidly growing, was crippled by the credit crisis as a result of reckless lending practices. The Irish government sought to address this problem by creating the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), a state agency charged with seizing non-performing loans from Irish banks. In the first major legal challenge to NAMA, Patrick McKillen, one of Ireland’s most successful property managers, and 15 of his related companies sued the agency to stop it from seizing over €2 billion in commercial real estate loans that were part of Mr. McKillen’s multi-billion euro loan portfolio.
Experts at The Brattle Group were retained by Eugene F. Collins, Solicitors at Law in Ireland and counsel for Mr. McKillen, to review the dispute and provide testimony analyzing whether NAMA’s planned seizure of the loans was economically appropriate and whether the loans posed a systemic risk to the Irish economy. Brattle experts Dr. Michael Cragg and Mr. Joseph Belanger, along with Nobel Prize winning economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz, provided affidavits in support of McKillen’s case to both the High Court and Supreme Court in Ireland. According to Dr. Cragg, Mr. McKillen’s performing loans should not be taken over by Nama, because it would “in all likelihood, destroy the value of those loans because Nama has no real banking functionality due to its lack of underwriting and credit issuance capabilities.” Mr. Belanger analyzed the value of relationship banking and concluded that associating Mr. McKillen’s enterprises with Nama would damage his reputation and cause a decline in his property values and therefore a loss in his net worth.
In July 2011, NAMA announced their decision not to acquire any of Mr. McKillen’s eligible bank assets, as the acquisition of the loans was deemed not appropriate based on the conditions set forth in the legislation creating NAMA. Their ultimate decision stems from a lawsuit that reached the Irish Supreme Court, in which Dr. Cragg, Mr. Belanger, and Professor Stiglitz provided affidavits in support of Mr. McKillen at both the initial trial and the Supreme Court appeal. The seven judge court unanimously decided in favor of Mr. McKillen, ruling that NAMA had no valid claim to initially acquire the loans in December of 2009.