Business Irish

Friday 23 February 2018

AIB meets potential buyers about sale of stake by 2014

Nick Webb

Nick Webb

AIB has held meetings with potential US and Asian investors about the sale of a stake in the bank.

"We are meeting with investors and we will continue to do so," according to one source. The discussions have been described by insiders as "exploratory".

"There's a steady level of interest and it's picking up."

Market sources have linked Canadian banks as well as a number of Asian funds with discussions, although AIB insiders have downplayed those links. Canadian bank CIBC is thought to have made contact with the bank about buying a stake previously. US buyout funds such as Blackstone have also been scouring the Irish market for distressed assets.

"We've made very significant strides towards changing the organisation and we're very keen to get new investors on board," AIB chairman David Hodgkinson told shareholders at the bank's AGM last week.

"But, in order to do so, we need to be an investable option and, at present, we're not. Hodgkinson indicated that the bank aimed to be profitable within two years."

The sale of a minority stake in AIB is the most likely outcome unless the bank's management can offload the whole bank to another trade player. "It's unlikely to be a big bang," according to a banker. "You could place a stake with a fund or something like that."

Last Friday's breakthrough on the European debt crisis may also see the euro bailout funds taking a direct stake in Irish banks as part of the refinancing of our bank debt.

Sunday Indo Business

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