Borrowers are now being put on notice of the imminent loan sale of their portfolios contained within their SME Recoveries Department.

Bank issues have been well chronicled but continue to unfold bought to light recently with Ulster Bank announcing they’re selling the lower part of their loan book known most recently as SME Recoveries.  Ulster Bank have been engaging in piece meal sales of their loan portfolios since late 2014. This has ultimately involved sale transactions to foreign investors and has resulted in the closure of several Ulster Bank Departments as well as the disposal of multiple staff.

The strict deadline of 31st March 2016 has been imposed by which stage Borrowers must make full, detailed and substantiated proposals to the Bank.

In the event that this is not adhered to/should an agreement failed to be reached, then the subject loans shall be packaged into said loan sale and sold off to an entity yet to be determined… This often results in loss of control, uncertainty & paralysis for any Borrower, be they individuals or businesses, in terms of next steps and reaching a place of ultimate closure.

This sale brings new players to the field whose objectives are purely short term. This does not fit in with farming objectives and views taking a longer term perspective. It is a concerning time for farmers whose loans could be sold.

It is imperative to not sit and wait for things to happen but instead be proactive. Diversification is becoming more and more vital in the industry and farmers are urged not to rely on one product or source of income. With this change, people must become far more realistic in their approach and this may even mean that previously sacrosanct land may need to be sold.

If your loan has been sold by Ulster Bank then you should prepare yourself for heated discussions in the future. In preparation, consider this short list:

  1. Look for alternative forms of finance
  2. Determine your legal position and status of your security
  3. A Root and Branch review of land or assets held including any rights or issues. It is essential you undertake this review yourself to understand this rather than rely solely on your Solicitor’s input.
  4. Undertake an up to date financial review ASAP
  5. Perform a SWOT analysis of your current position.

Armed with the above you can fully assess your position with the lender.

Bell & Company undertake this form of work across all industries, we negotiate with Banks on the borrower’s behalf. The appointment of a third party is essential and this brings a pragmatic thought process, knowledge and experience to discussions. When a lender and borrower communicate directly it is often disbelieving one another. Obviously, an advisor would act solely on your behalf and they assist greatly through a difficult and emotional period. Armed with the best advice allows you to plan for the future.  Helen Mc McCarragher, Corporate Manager in Bell & Company states “It is inevitable that those who are pro-active rather than re-active shall achieve the best results and shall be the first to reach a place of final resolution.”


We would urge anyone with loans in this Department to make provisions to discuss their options going forward. Bell & Company offer a free consultation for anyone who wishes to make headway in becoming proactive in a bid to protect what is important to them.

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