Tuesday 17 September 2019

AIB hits back at loan sale accounting practice claims

Departing: Bernard Byrne is to step down as AIB chief executive and take up a new post with Davy
Departing: Bernard Byrne is to step down as AIB chief executive and take up a new post with Davy
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

AIB has defended its accounting practices after questions were raised in a 'Financial Times' report on the bank's sale of €1.1bn of loans to Cerberus.

In its half-year results in July, the bank said the sale had given it a €140m gain on disposal.

The 'Financial Times' piece questioned whether AIB had used the introduction of new accounting standards, known as IFRS 9, to create "artificial profits" on the transaction.

It said that the bank had put in place €271m of provisions (an amount put aside to guard against future losses) that had been excluded from the income statement, raising the question of whether the €140m gain was a gain at all.

In a statement yesterday the 71pc-State owned bank said the impact of the transition to IFRS 9 on the portfolio that was sold was "de minimis".

It said putting in place the provisions, which was under IFRS 9, was not related to the sale of the portfolio, adding that these two "separate and unrelated events" had been conflated in the piece, leading to the interpretation that artificial profits may have been created.

"The gain was... not related to or as result of transition to IFRS 9... we are very comfortable with our accounting treatment of these and all related matters."

Diarmaid Sheridan, an equity analyst at Davy, said it appeared that the piece was comparing "apples and oranges" when it came to the provisions and the sale of the loan portfolio.

Owen Callan, an equity analyst at Investec, said AIB's statement suggested that IFRS 9 had no impact on the profit the bank made on the portfolio.

The bank is hunting for a new chief executive after Bernard Byrne announced he is to leave for Davy.

Richard Pym, AIB's chairman, said it was "a very grim day in my life" when Mr Byrne told him he was leaving. Mr Pym has been critical of the caps on pay at bailed-out banks, saying they made talent retention more difficult.

Irish Independent

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