Northern Ireland

Cerberus: US investment fund to face criticism at Stormont committee

Cerberus website
Image caption Cerberus is best known for buying more than £1bn of loans from the Republic of Ireland's National Assets Management Agency (Nama) in 2014

An accountancy firm representing businesses whose bank loans were sold to Cerberus is expected to criticise the investment fund at Stormont later.

It is understood the firm, Bell & Co, will claim that Cerberus is treating some former Ulster Bank borrowers harshly and putting jobs at risk.

But, in a statement Cerberus said it is "fair and consistent" in its approach.

The US investment fund added that it has reached "consensual outcomes" with the vast majority of borrowers.

Cerberus is best known for buying more than £1bn of loans from the Republic of Ireland's National Assets Management Agency (Nama), but it also spent a similar amount on loans from Ulster Bank.

In December 2014, the fund bought Project Aran from Ulster Bank for a reported £1.1bn

It is a portfolio of more than 6,000 loans relating to more than 5,000 properties and 1,000 borrowers.

About 20% of the assets are in Northern Ireland with the rest in the Republic of Ireland.

It later paid Ulster Bank another £200m for a Northern Ireland loan portfolio called Project Rathlin.

Cerberus expects borrowers to repay their loans quickly either by selling properties or finding new lenders.

Firms like Bell & Co negotiate on behalf of borrowers.

Their evidence to the enterprise committee at Stormont is expected to focus on the negotiation process and property valuations.

Cerberus' statement added that since 2014 it has have written off more than £3bn in debt in Northern Ireland.

It said that had "helped to strengthen the local economy, creating jobs and the stimulus for growth that has enabled others to invest and recruit for the future".