Irish News

Friday 29 August 2014

Ross to sell BoI shareholding

Published 10/06/2014 | 14:02

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About 1.8 billion units of shares in the Bank of Ireland will be offered on the markets

Bank of Ireland has said it is grateful to US billionaire Wilbur Ross who is selling his remaining stake in the bank.

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The pioneering investment, which kept the once-troubled lender out of complete state ownership, is being offered for sale after the investor turned a 300 million euro (£370m) gamble into more than 800m euro (£990m) .

Mr Ross is stepping down as a director of the bank with the sale of his stake.

Bank of Ireland said about 1.8 billion units of shares in the bank will be offered on the markets.

Archie G Kane, chairman of the Bank of Ireland Group, paid tribute to the investor for showing confidence in the lender in the months after Ireland was forced into an international bailout in late 2010 following the banking and economic collapse.

"On behalf of the board I would like to thank Wilbur for his contribution, diligence and commitment as a Board member. Wilbur was instrumental in the success of the 2011 capital raising and, throughout his tenure, we have benefited greatly from his insights," Mr Kane said.

Bank of Ireland said it appreciates and understands the comments which Mr Ross made to the Reuters news agency after the news of his sale broke where he said the decision was not a negative comment on the bank's future and that his investment had been tremendous.

It is understood the reasons for the sell off are to diversify an investment portfolio.

The shares will be offered by Deutsche Bank at around 27 cents each, compared to the stock market value of 10 cents the bank was trading at when Mr Ross invested. He sold about 3.5% of his 9% stake back in March.

Another major US investor, Prem Watsa, is expected to remain a major Bank of Ireland shareholder with a 5.8% stake.

The Irish Government remains the largest shareholder in the bank with 14% of the stock and while a sale has been talked about Finance Minister Michael Noonan has insisted there is no pressure to sell.

Bank of Ireland's share price closed tonight at 28 cents, down from a peak of 39 euro cents earlier this year.

The bank became the first of the Irish lenders to return to profit this year after the financial crash and a 4.8 billion euro (£3.9bn) bailout.

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