Wednesday 26 April 2017

State applies to extend bank guarantee scheme

At the meeting of European finance ministers in Brussels where they discussed the European Stability Fund Mechanism were Finance Minister Michael Noonan with Swedish counterpart Anders Borg. Photo: Peter Cavanagh
At the meeting of European finance ministers in Brussels where they discussed the European Stability Fund Mechanism were Finance Minister Michael Noonan with Swedish counterpart Anders Borg. Photo: Peter Cavanagh

Laura Noonan in Brussels

The Government has lodged a formal application to extend the €150bn bank guarantee scheme from June 31 until the end of the year and is hoping to have a favourable response "within weeks".

The news follows the March 31 announcement that the Government hopes to continue guaranteeing almost all the deposits and bonds issued by the banks until at least the end of the year.

Yesterday, sources confirmed that a formal application to extend the existing Eligible Liabilities Guarantee (ELG) scheme beyond June 30 had been sent to Brussels last week. The European Commission will only ever approve an extension for six months at a time.

Obstacles

Ireland is not expecting any obstacles with the extension, since senior Brussels figures have publicly acknowledged that bank guarantee schemes will remain a feature of the European landscape for years.

Asked if they would be talking about the ELG at the meetings, Mr Noonan replied: "There's no reference to that on the agenda, we're not talking about that today."

The extension is expected to be announced "weeks" before the guarantee scheme runs out, to avoid the creation of any uncertainty in the markets.

The extended scheme is expected to be identical to the current one, encompassing deposits up to five years' maturity and senior bank debt.

The latest figures from the National Treasury Management Agency showed some €111bn of bonds and deposits were covered by the Eligible Liabilities Scheme at the end of December.

Figure

That figure could have risen by about €40bn since the start of the year, after the banks issued about €20bn of 'self-held' government-guaranteed bonds to themselves and took in an extra €19bn of government deposits.

The sums guaranteed are expected to fall later in the year, as the Government withdraws its €19bn of deposits and uses the money to recapitalise the banks by the end of July.

The €20bn of self-held bonds are also expected to be unwound over the short to medium-term, since the European Central Bank has only agreed to accept them as collateral in its liquidity operations for a "temporary" period.

Irish Independent

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