Many are called, few are chosen

UK firms among the few big earners on Irish asset agency’s extensive panel

Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency (Nama) has one of the biggest legal panels around. But anecdotal evidence suggests only a fraction of the firms appointed actually get any work.

The agency appointed 64 Irish firms to its panel to advise on the acquisition of bank assets back in 2009, before announcing enforcement and refinancing panels a year later. The second set included UK firms, with giants such as Clifford Chance, DLA Piper and Slaughter and May winning places.

Information released in response to a Parliamentary question from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams shows that just 10 firms have received a whopping 68 per cent of the €27.6m (£23.1m) in legal fees paid by Nama so far.

Top of the list, with fees of €3m from 2010 to now, is Irish firm Arthur Cox. But Hogan Lovells and A&O are close behind, bringing in €2.9m and €2.5m respectively.

The UK firms are needed as the Irish banks held some €18bn of loans in UK property that now need restructuring and refinancing. An example of the work was Hogan Lovells’ advice on the £600m sale of debt held on Claridge’s owner Maybourne Hotels to a Barclay brothers vehicle, which completed last September.

Another four UK firms – DLA Piper, Simmons & Simmons, SNR Denton and Taylor Wessing – have each been paid at least €42,000 by Nama for the year to date, while Eversheds earned some €424,000 in 2010. No other UK firms are in the top 10 list, but they can take heart from the fact thatNama’s work will continue for some time yet.