Sunday 24 September 2017

BoI shareholders agree to take over €3.1bn NAMA loan to State

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

NAMA will get back a €3.1bn loan it made to the Government last April within days, after shareholders in Bank of Ireland yesterday voted to take over the transaction.

The NAMA loan was part of the complex transaction the Government used to defer the impact of a €3.1bn cash payment it made to Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), the former Anglo Irish Bank, in April under the controversial rescue terms agreed for the failed bank.

The convoluted deal to meet the payment without drawing on the annual budget was announced in March.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan and the board of Bank of Ireland agreed a one-year loan to cover the payment.

The loan meant the State could meet the €3.1bn Anglo payment as it fell due, without having to dip into its normal budget to cover the cost.

The deal is designed to buy time while the minister tries to convince the European Central Bank (ECB) to ease the overall terms of the deal.

Taxpayers

That wider issue is the controversial €31bn, 10-year cost of winding down IBRC, which has to be shouldered by taxpayers under the terms of the EU/IMF bailout.

Despite the backing of its board, Bank of Ireland needed shareholder approval to make the loan.

State-controlled NAMA was ordered to make the payment pending the shareholder backing from Bank of Ireland.

Yesterday Bank of Ireland shareholders backed their board's decision by an overwhelming 99.98pc majority at an emergency meeting held in Dublin to vote on the deal.

The State has a 15pc stake in the bank, but was not allowed to vote because of its role in the transaction.

The bank is making the loan on commercial terms and expects to make a profit of €38.7m on the deal, based on an interest margin of 1.35pc.

The deal involved the State issuing a new government bond or IOU which the bank can swap for cash at the ECB. Bank of Ireland will then pay over the cash to meet the IBRC payment, booking a profit on the deal, with the State due to redeem the IOU at the end of the term.

Despite more than 99pc support for the deal, protests outside the hotel where the meeting was held were echoed inside the hall by smaller shareholders who attended the ballot.

A number of the mostly elderly Irish shareholders in attendance at yesterday's meeting questioned the credit worthiness of the State as borrower.

Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher said there was a risk the bank may not be repaid in full, in the event of an "overnight catastrophic default", but he said the risk was low.

The cost of insuring the bank against default risk would wipe out the profits on the deal, he said.

Irish Independent

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