A GROUP of clients of Anglo Irish Banks, including big builders and entrepreneurs, plan to set up a large investment fund to buy shares in the troubled bank.
A meeting took place in a Dublin hotel recently in which it was decided to buy shares worth up to €500m. Gerry Gannon of Gannon Homes and Sean Quinn are thought to have been targeted to join the consortium. Quinn is already a large shareholder.
Sources close to the group suggest that each member will be asked to put in several million euro. When the fund reaches €500m, it will be leveraged up with borrowings to buy further Anglo shares.
Supporters of Anglo are convinced that there are still scores of big investors who will be forced to buy back stock as a result of short selling.
Some of the consortium are incensed by the recent short selling of Anglo shares by stockbrokers in Dublin and London and are determined to punish the offending brokers.
Last night one member told the Sunday Independent: "We are going to teach the brokers and hedge funds that damaged the bank a salutary lesson. It is our bank, it has an entrepreneurial culture. They will come out of this with their fingers burned."
Shares in Anglo have tanked in recent weeks, due largely to short selling. They plunged from a 12-month high of €17.53 to below €7 at one point.
The Financial Regulator has launched an investigation into dealings in the stock, especially around the St Patrick's Day holiday when the shares were assaulted by sellers.
Anglo has bankrolled some of the State's most successful entrepreneurs, from developer Bernard McNamara to Richard Nesbitt's Arnotts and Mick Bailey of Bovale.