Vul­ture funds swoop on debt farms

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - News - Mark O’Re­gan

FARM­ING fam­i­lies are los­ing their land as vul­ture funds swoop on in­debted prop­er­ties bought dur­ing the height of the Celtic Tiger.

For­eign vul­ture funds that bought up large swathes of dis­tressed Ir­ish loans have sig­nif­i­cantly ramped up their pur­suit of bor­row­ers.

It comes as var­i­ous for­eign-based funds and inves- tors — of­ten re­ferred to as “vul­ture funds” — that bought dis­tressed Ir­ish loans dur­ing the crash, crank up their ac­tiv­i­ties in the courts.

The num­ber of debt en­force­ment cases be­ing taken in the High Court by ma­jor funds has in­creased ten­fold.

Ac­cord­ing to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the farm­ing com­mu­nity, those with loans ac­quired by vul­ture funds have come un­der mount­ing pres­sure in re­cent months.

Speak­ing to the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent, John Comer, pres­i­dent of the Ir­ish Cream­ery Milk Sup­pli­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (ICMSA), said he knows of “hugely dis­tress­ing” in­di­vid­ual sto­ries of farm­ers los­ing their land.

“In the vast ma­jor­ity of cases, the farm was in the fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions. The re­al­ity is that it wasn’t the farm­ing busi­ness that brought them down. Dur­ing the boom there were off-farm in­vest­ments which didn’t work out, and the col­lat­eral of the farm was caught up in it. But in many cases the farm­ing busi­ness was still vi­able, and it would have made more sense for the State and the tax­payer, if a work­able so­lu­tion was found, to keep them in their busi­ness.

“Ex­treme pres­sure is be­ing put on farm­ers now.”

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