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Friday 29 August 2014

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross calls stake in Bank of Ireland ‘best’ investment

Donal O'Donovan

Published 20/05/2013 | 12:04

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Wilbur Ross has joined the board of Bank of Ireland

Billionaire US investor Wilbur Ross has called his almost 10pc stake in Bank of Ireland shares as his best investment since the financial crisis.

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In a broad ranging interview the Bank of Ireland board member said Bank of Ireland and the Irish economy are performing far better than forecast when the banking system was “stress tested” by Blackrock

“I think Bank of Ireland is turning out to be a really good investment,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

Shares in the bank have risen by about 80pc since Ross and other North American investors bought into the bank in 2011, he said.

Ross said he invested in Ireland because of the modern high tech economy here, including in pharmaceuticals and internet companies, he said.

Unlike other distressed European economies Ireland did not need “structural reforms” he said. 

“Ireland has proper labour laws,” he said.

“Ireland didn’t need structural reform, all it needed was to fill the hole left by the banking crisis,” the US investor said. 

And he said he is not concerned by the lack of repossessions by Bank of Ireland and other Irish lenders.

The fact that homeowners are left with debt in Ireland even after repossession is a very powerful deterrent from walking away from mortgages, he said.

In that context modifying mortgage debt is working well, he said, with 86pc of mortgages modified by Bank of Ireland now sticking to their new terms.

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