Deadline extended after EBS suitors ask for time
THE State has agreed to extend last night's deadline for final EBS bids until August 20 after potential suitors asked for more time to prepare their offers.
A group of four bidders -- led by Irish Life & Permanent -- were expected to lodge second-round bids for the state-owned building society by close of business yesterday.
But well-placed sources last night confirmed the deadline has been extended until Friday week by "mutual agreement" between the bidders and the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), which is handling the sale for the taxpayer.
Sources stressed that the extension didn't signal anything "untoward" about the process. "It's mainly an administration thing, and a lot of people are away as well," said one, referencing the August holidays.
A spokesman for the NTMA declined to comment, as did a spokesman for EBS.
Irish Life & Permanent has been tipped as the forerunner in the bidding process, and favours merging EBS with its own banking arm Permanent TSB and ultimately spinning the two off.
The deal would create a so-called "third force" in the Irish banking sector, but sources have stressed that the State expects to get value from EBS and will not sell it to IL&P "on the cheap" to further the third force plan.
The other bidders in the frame are private equity venture JC Flowers, tv3 owner Doughty Hanson and Cardinal Asset Management.
Any buyer is expected to have to pump several hundred million into EBS's balance sheet.
Back in March, the Financial Regulator ordered the building society to improve its capital base by €785m before the year's end. Since then, some €90m has been raised through a debt buy-back.
The new buyers may also have to repay some of the €350m the Government has put into the building society.