Business Irish

Monday 25 September 2017

EU still waiting on feasible plan for Permanent TSB

European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia
European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

THE Government has failed to present a feasible plan for Permanent TSB to the EU, a senior Brussels official has said.

"We are waiting for the presentation of clear ideas on the restructuring of this institution," said EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia in Dublin yesterday.

"We cannot decide, under our own judgment, the way an institution must be restructured with public money," he said, adding that it needs to be decided based on a plan put forward by the authorities of a member state. "We are not there yet," said Mr Almunia (pictured).

In a statement yesterday, the bank said it had worked with the Department of Finance on the plan it submitted to the EU.

"There is now a constructive engagement under way with the EU Commission, which we are confident will lead to an agreement relatively quickly. We are making good progress on creating a viable, competitive bank in Permanent TSB, which will be smaller than the bank was in the past but which will play an important role in the banking sector here," it said.

But a spokesperson conceded that "there are wider issues" that the proposals do not address, including the possibility of selling more troublesome divisions of the bank. "We want to create a thing that is capable of being sold off, before we actually start worrying about selling it," said the spokesperson.

Mr Alumnia said he was aware of the lack of competition in Ireland's retail banking sector, following the collapse or Irish exit of banks like Anglo and Danske as well as the shut-down of some credit unions.

But he said the market and main players have to be reformed before competition becomes the focus, describing the situation was "improving".

The key issue, he said, was removing barriers to entry for foreign banks seeking to enter the Irish market "so Bank of Ireland, and others who received state support, will be obliged to co-operate with any entrant that knocks on their door".

Irish Independent

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