NAMA chief opens up about vulture funds and the housing crisis

Frank Daly spoke about his time to date at the controversial agency on Down to Business...

NAMA chief opens up about vulture funds and the housing crisis

Picture by: Brian Lawless / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Perhaps the most notorious entity to arise out of the Irish financial crisis, the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) has faced plenty of criticism as it carries out its duty to recoup a minimum of all the expenditure incurred by it on acquiring loans.

Frank Daly has been the chairperson of the body since 2009 and he joined Bobby Kerry on the latest Down to Business to talk about his life, career and why he thinks NAMA is misunderstood.

The interview, which you can listen to below, took in everything from the reasons behind the recession and the bad publicity NAMA has received to its dealings with vulture funds and response to the housing crisis. 

On the bubble bursting

"We got very comfortable. Coming out of Revenue, I was just a little bit concerned about the percentage of tax take that was coming out of the property sector...

"Then there were economists whom we should have listened to at the time holding up the hand and saying 'let's not lose the run of ourselves'.

"I think we didn't listen enough to those outliers...

"We should always listen to the dissenting voices."

On NAMA's bad PR

"NAMA can be blamed for a lot of things and people have views about NAMA, but NAMA had legislation to underpin it. We had to do what was in the legislation."

On the morality of selling assets to vulture funds

"The responsibility on us is to get the best financial return that we can for the taxpayer. That's our mandate. We don't act irresponsibly though. Every time we sell an asset it is sold on the open market... So everybody has an opportunity to bid on this.

"Ireland needs investors as well as developers. We need people to take these assets off our hands...

"I think it's wrong to assume that these companies do not have ethical standards of their own just because they're so-called vulture funds".

On how NAMA is reacting to the housing crisis

"We're required by our legislation to act commercially. So we can't go out and build houses where there is not at least a modicum of commercial return for NAMA...

"The problem is not so much that NAMA is doing 20,000 [housing units] by 2020, the problem is that there aren't others coming in there at the moment adding to that number.

"NAMA has put about 130,00 housing units on the market since inception. 89% of those have been sold to private individuals on the open market."