NAB to sell UK loan portfolio

National Australia Bank is looking to offload its £600 million portfolio of non-performing loans in the UK, according to weekend media reports.

On 31 May The Australian reported that NAB has appointed investment bank Morgan Stanley to market the portfolio, believed to be worth between £600 million and £650 million (approximately AU$1 billion to AU$1.1 billion).

First-round bids are expected by the end of next month, according to British commercial property publication Estates Gazette, which first reported the deal.

The news comes after NAB posted a net profit of $2.86 billion for the half year to March 31, buoyed by a substantial reduction in bad and doubtful UK debts.

The charge for bad and doubtful debts (B&DDs) was $528 million across the entire group, down 52 per cent from the prior corresponding period – and 37 per cent lower than the charge for the September 2013 half year.

Cash earnings in the NAB UK Commercial Real Estate (CRE) run-off portfolio improved in the half year to a loss of £7 million (AU$12.6 million), compared to a £149 million (AU$270 million) loss in the March 2013 half year, and a loss of £90 million (AU$162.8 million) in the September 2013 half year.

Commenting on the result, NAB chief executive Cameron Clyne said the recovery of the UK arm of the business is "tracking very well".

"It is still a challenging environment and you will see in this result that we have quite a significant uptick in conduct [related charges]," said Mr Clyne.

"The UK economy is improving, the GDP is growing, and house prices are increasing in Yorkshire and Scotland, but this has been a very troubled economy," he said.

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