IFA to protest farmer loan sale outside AIB AGM

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has announced its intention to stage a protest against AIB’s inclusion of certain farmer loans in a recent sale of loans.

The IFA will tomorrow, Wednesday, April 24, have a presence outside the AIB’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Dublin.

The protest will begin at 11:00am tomorrow morning.

This is part of a planned campaign to be rolled out nationally against AIB’s plans to sell certain farmer loans as part of its most recent loan sale, the organisation revealed.

Speaking to AgriLand ahead of the protest, IFA Farm Business and Credit Committee chairman Martin Stapleton said:

“Our view is that any commercial farm that has been making attempts to pay, that has been trying in good faith to negotiate or renegotiate, should not be sold to a fund whose only objective is to call in the loan immediately.

Tomorrow is the AGM of AIB and we’re using that as the first action in our campaign against AIB’s decision to sell these loans.

In cases where people owed money to the bank and were not willing to engage and hadn’t engaged in years, it could be accepted that there would be a need for loan sales, the chairman said.

“What there is no acceptance for is where people have been attempting to pay, where people have been engaged and often in cases have professional people engaged to act on their behalf to secure a negotiation and have, at no notice, had those loans sold.

“In those cases, or in cases where loans have been restructured, we think it’s completely inappropriate to have those loans sold,” Stapleton said.

Earlier this month, AIB announced the sale of a non-performing loan portfolio worth €1 billion, which includes “limited agriculture exposure”, according to the bank.

AIB Group has agreed to sell a non-performing loan portfolio to Everyday Finance as part of a consortium arrangement with Everyday and affiliates of Cerberus Capital Management.

In a statement issued by the bank, AIB said: “This is another important step in our non-performing exposure (NPE) deleveraging strategy and we remain on track to reach approximately 5% by the end of 2019.

“The loan portfolio has a gross NPE value of €1 billion and a fully loaded risk weighted assets position of €0.75 billion.”

The bank noted that the loan portfolio incurred a loss of €11 million in 2018, adding that, through the sale, AIB will receive cash consideration of approximately €800 million.

The portfolio is predominantly underpinned by investment asset properties. It also includes limited agriculture exposure, the bank confirmed.

The average balance per customer connection is €500,000 and the portfolio extends across about 5,000 assets.

While not categorised as a principal dwelling home portfolio sale, for approximately 10% of customer connections, home property has been included “as it is cross-secured to wider commercial connected debt”.