We hope that 2013 was a good year for you and your firm and that 2014 brings new opportunities and further success. We saw a number of developments in the Irish market last year and you can watch a short video from IDA Ireland with local highlights here, including updates on a number of our clients.

We have prepared a short overview of key developments in the real estate environment during 2013. We hope this proves helpful and if you require any additional information on these topics do please contact one of our team.

1. The Liquidation of IBRC

The liquidation of IBRC, previously known as Anglo Irish Bank Corporation plc, came as a major surprise. The special liquidators are currently completing a market-testing phase, (final bids from those wishing to acquire any of the available tranches) of the sale process which will result in IBRC loans either transferring to NAMA or being bought by third parties. Some borrowers are seeking to buy back their loans.

The assets are located in Ireland and abroad, with Projects Rock, Sand, Evergreen and Stone on offer. Within each Project there are portfolios and the liquidators have a huge task in considering all the variations presented by endeavouring to sell so many loans in so many locations to so many potential buyers. The total face value of the loans is a mind boggling €22 billion. If the highest bids do not meet the valuations which the special liquidators have obtained, then the loans transfer to NAMA. It remains to be seen what will happen if the highest bid is close to, but not matching, the valuation.

2. Strategic Development Zone in the South Docks

The imminent adoption of a strategic development zone ("SDZ") in the South Docks area of Dublin is an example of Ireland's drive to improve, which was recently endorsed by Forbes magazine who ranked Ireland as the best country in the world in which to do business. The SDZ will give greater certainty as to what development will be permitted and will shorten the authorisation process.

Once your project meets the requirements set out in the SDZ, an applicant for planning permission will be virtually guaranteed consent and there is no appeal from the decision of Dublin City Council, except for an appeal on a point of law to the courts. We expect that the SDZ will become effective in the coming weeks, once the Planning Appeals Board approves the draft plan.

The area is becoming known as Silicon Docks because of the number of technology companies operating here. Mason Hayes & Curran is also located in the SDZ area. There are some sites left in the area, as well as buildings which could be refurbished or benefit from a change of use.

3. International Investment in Irish Assets Grows

Only a couple of years ago the idea of major international investors acquiring Irish assets and loan portfolios would have seemed fanciful. Now, the international element is an important part of the Irish recovery story.

Private equity funds, REITs and high net worth individuals have been acquiring everything from high profile buildings to residential loan books which are in default; major hotels to shopping centres; half finished apartment blocks to development sites.

The likelihood in 2014 is that current holders of real estate debt will continue to divest, banks will enforce, either through appointment of insolvency practitioners or through consensual sales, and NAMA will accelerate its disposal process in Ireland, having committed to dramatically increase its vendor financing. NAMA continues to innovate, with its deal on Project Aspen where it retained an interest in the transaction post completion and provided some vendor financing, being particularly noteworthy. NAMA provided staple finance at a circa 60% loan-to-value ratio with a term of 5 years at a commercial interest rate.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.