Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NAMA sells off €40m UK house to Indian executive

The plush exterior of Updown Court in Windlesham, Surrey, which was bought by an Indian businessman

The plush exterior of Updown Court in Windlesham, Surrey, which was bought by an Indian businessman

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By Emmet Oliver

Monday October 17 2011

NAMA is believed to have sold Updown Court in Surrey -- once Britain's most expensive house -- to an Indian businessman for €40m.

The agency took a profit on the house after substantially discounting the original loan purchased from Irish Nationwide, which was a major backer of the property. At one stage the building society held a board meeting at the mansion.

It is understood that anything above €20m would leave the agency in profit on the sale, although it declined to comment yesterday.

The precise discount on the loan has not been revealed, but Irish Nationwide loans were subject to swingeing discounts (or 'haircuts') during the original loan acquisition process.


The property was originally put on the market for €80m, but has been reduced on several occasions in order to attract interest.

The Indian businessman who bought the property is not believed to be active in UK industry. Several Russians also looked at the site over recent months.

NAMA appointed a receiver to the property in August and hired a real-estate agent to speed up the sale process. The property, which is bigger than Buckingham Palace, is believed to cost €50,000 a week to run.

The most expensive country house ever put on the UK market hit the headlines earlier this year when news filtered out that no buyers had been found for the mansion and NAMA was preparing to take enforcement action.

The 103-room Updown Court, which has five swimming pools, was an Irish Nationwide joint venture, which lent £63m (€71m) to the project.

The property also has a bowling alley, a cinema and an indoor squash court. The house's developer Leslie Allen-Vercoe was not personally liable for any of the debts and his only role in the project in the last year was to find a buyer.

It is understood one British, one Russian and one Far East potential buyer had come forward.

Mr Allen-Vercoe told the Irish Independent during the summer that if NAMA decided to appoint a receiver, it would be against the interests of Irish taxpayers as stamp-duty tax advantages could be lost. His assertion was rejected by the agency, which is selling large parts of its UK loan book.

- Emmet Oliver

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