Out of sight and out of mind: at the best of times it is difficult to get a handle on what the Irish banks were up to in the United States. Just as it was at home, the lenders quickened their lending just as the boom was about to go bust.
The usual suspect, Anglo Irish, was the most exuberant. It loaned an astonishing €10bn, or 14% of its total €72bn loan book, into the US.
But other lenders were also lending substantial amounts. AIB, through its Capital Markets Division and its New York branch, had loaned €2.95bn, or 2.5% of its whole €129bn loan book, into North America by last summer. Even Bank of Ireland, though it had pulled out of the US over 15 years earlier, was indirectly involved in lending to US-based companies.
At least €2.3bn of the Irish banks' €13bn in American loans will end up in the National Asset Management Agency.
Some believe that the US loan books will fare better than those in Ireland, as property prices rise and companies tap the US-led recovery. But a survey by the Sunday Tribune of the US bankruptcy and civil courts shows that the Dublin lenders were involved in a large number of disputes in recent months. The cases suggest that their US loan books also face substantial stress.
Anglo opened its Chicago office in late 2006 and was immediately involved in lending to big and small property developers.
The office is now closed but the Illinois bankruptcy court documents show that property clients are seeking protection from Anglo. Berkley Manor Apartments, owner of 470 apartments in the region, filed for Chapter 11 protection in late October and Ventana Hills, a 252-unit development in Pennsylvania, owned by the same developer, followed in November.
Anglo had loaned $30.6m to Berkley in March 2007 but the outstanding debt, including unpaid interest, had risen to $31.5m, Anglo told the court in recent months. Ventana Hills sought protection from Anglo for a €53.1m loan in April 2008. By last November, the accrued non-paid interest had brought the total debt to almost $55m.
Together, the companies owe Anglo $86.5m. Recent court documents give no hint on the current valuations of the properties.
Anglo became entangled with the bankruptcy petition filed last October by Capmark Financial, one of the largest US commercial property lenders, which controls $360bn in debt through Anglo's Colligo
Funding, a pool of commercial mortgages in the US.
Anglo's attorney last November raised a "limited objection" to the sale of one of Capmark's businesses, as the Irish lender sought to have Capmark cover the cost of re-assigning a loan servicing agreement signed in April 2008, court documents show.
Civil courts also give an insight into the amount of lending Anglo advanced into the US at the height of the boom in the US.
In the Northern District Court of Illinois, Anglo last October sued MDE Partners, a junior lender to a property company in Chicago, called 58 East Oak. Anglo had loaned 58 East Oak $32m and wanted it to repay its loans to Anglo first before MDE Partners.
When the property company defaulted last March, Anglo claimed that MDE Partners had subsequently received the full repayment of its $2.5m loan, while it received nothing. In November, court documents show Anglo removed its complaint, suggesting it reached some sort of agreement with MDE.
In Massachusetts, Anglo, along with Wonderland Greyhound Park and other defendants, was sued last May by E Mark Noonan, described as a business adviser. Anglo had loaned $8.8m in two instalments a few years earlier to Wonderland and subsequently loaned $1m more. Last August, Anglo objected to various claims made by Noonan to the court about the loans.
Allied Irish Banks
In San Antonio, Texas, Txco Resources, an oil company, filed in May last year for bankruptcy protection against its suppliers and seven bank creditors, including AIB and AIB Debt Management, which had together loaned the company $50m in April 2007. Last summer Txco sued AIB and its other lenders disputing the security they claimed over some of the loans.
AIB won a judgment last month in a Los Angeles court that Hollywood production company R2D2, owner of Capitol Films, pay it $1.2m plus costs from loans that helped make The Edge of Love, a movie starring Keira Knightley and Cillian Murphy, about the life of Dylan Thomas. In 2007, Capitol requested a $8.3m loan to make The Edge of Love and the court ruled it repay any outstanding money it owed AIB.
Catholic Diocese of Wilmington
Facing claims against a number of retired and removed priests for alleged sexual abuse, the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, a Delaware-registered company, became the seventh US Catholic diocese to file for bankruptcy protection last October. AIB is owed $12m by the diocese, by far the largest creditor that includes lay parishioners. Last week, the diocese argued to the Delaware bankruptcy court that it should be allowed to continue to pay retirement and other benefits to the accused priests.
Bank of Ireland
At the height of the property boom, hotel group Extended Stay Corporation, a mid-priced operator of 680 hotels across the US, was bought out for $8bn, leaving it servicing $7bn in bank loans. As the corporate and leisure market evaporated, Extended Stay filed for bankruptcy protection in a Manhattan bankruptcy court last June.
Bank of Ireland International Finance, which officially joined the creditor list in the last two weeks, appears to be a holder of so-called Class C Certificates worth $30m excluding mounting interest, and Class D certificates worth $15m, excluding interest payments. According to court documents, Extended Stay owes M&T, AIB's 23%-owned bank, an unsecured $8.5m.
The holders of its largest secured debt include Wachovia Bank, with claims of $984m in mezzanine debt and $515m in mortgage debt and Bank of America, which claims $958m in mezzanine debt and $400m in mortgage debt.