In an AGM statement, the group said that the level of distressed assets being brought to the market by the banks has slowed considerably due to the banks’ need to investigate the possibility of any mis-selling of interest rate swaps.
It said: “The slow-down has in our view been brought about by the banks’ need to investigate the possibility of any mis-selling of interest rate swaps in order to identify any borrowers whose financial prospects may have been adversely affected.
“At the present time, this process is ongoing, but we would expect that by the third and fourth quarters of this year, non-sophisticated borrowers and their businesses will have been identified and that normal recovery procedures will recommence and continue in respect of assets, which are the subject of defaulted loans.
“The sale of trading businesses brought about by loan default is a regrettable stage but a precursor to full market recovery and a necessary cathartic process. Businesses in some sectors are at their most affordable level.
“For example, the average sale price of a pub in 2012 was roughly on a par with the average house price. Given that at the peak of the market, pub prices were nearly three times that of the average residential dwelling, it can be seen how relatively affordable pubs have become. For buyers with suitable experience who are purchasing established and profitable businesses of all types, funding is readily available on sensible loan to value criteria."