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US investment firm Cerberus buys Ulster Bank's property loan portfolio for €2.5bn

The portfolio porfollio was first offered for sale by Ulster Bank in May. Picture by Paul Faith, Press Association

ULSTER Bank has sold a major property loan portfolio to US investors Cerberus.

The bank said the sale of the Project Oyster portfolio - worth around €2.5 billion (£2.2bn) - completed on Monday afternoon.

The majority of the loans (88 per cent) related to properties the Republic leaving around £261m worth of loans in Northern Ireland.

Cerberus is the same company that bought the entire Project Eagle portfolio comprising the Republic's bad bank Nama's Northern Ireland based loans for £1.3bn in 2014.

A spokesman for Ulster Bank said: “Ulster Bank has confirmed the completion of a sale of significantly impaired loan portfolio, predominantly in the Republic of Ireland, enabling the bank to strengthen its balance sheet for the benefit of its customers.

"The loans involved are all in Ulster Bank’s problem debt management unit and have been in arrears or under specialist management for a significant period of time.

"We will be in contact with all affected customers in the coming days to help them as their loans transition to their new owner."

The portfolio was first offered for sale by Ulster Bank in May.

It included around 900 mortgages secured on family homes, all of which are in the Republic.

The portfolio is expected to be the final tranche of toxic loans that formed the institution's so-called bad bank, to be sold off.

Earlier this year, the bank's chief executive Gerry Mallon said the sale had been delayed due to the UK referendum on EU membership.

It is understood around 95 per cent of the mortgages are at least two years in arrears.

All of the loans are the subject of legal action by the lender.

The amount paid by Cerberus has not been disclosed, however it is normal for foreign funds to by mortgages at a substantial discount.

It is believed the portfolio also includes around 2,000 buy-to-let mortgages.

Almost three-quarters of the loans are understood to be commercial, lent to small firms that were involved in property development.

And around 5 per cent of loans were to farmers - with around £22m of that relating to agricultural loans in the north.

Cerberus is also expected to purchase the Capital Homes Loan (CHL) mortgage portfolio owned by Permanent TSB in the UK.

It already bought around of CHL's loans last year.

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