Saturday 23 November 2019

AIB needs good shareholders rather than cheap advice

Thomas Molloy

Independent advice is usually best so it was foolish of the Government to trumpet the fact that Goldman Sachs won't be charging for a recommendation on whether to sell a stake in AIB.

Goldman stands to make money if the Government decides to sell so don't be surprised if the advice is to do precisely that.

A question on most minds will be whether the taxpayer can ever recoup the €21bn pumped into AIB over the years.

The simple answer is that we may well get back the "investment" made by the taxpayer to prevent national bankruptcy but we will never fully regain our reputation.

We needed the cost of bailing out AIB for other purposes back in 2009.

Tempting though it is to focus on the repayment issue, the really pertinent question is the one raised by Willem Buiter during a trip to Dublin yesterday; who should be allowed to buy AIB?

Not all owners are created equal. Every sensible listed company takes great care to manage their share register to ensure growth.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan must now do the same thing to ensure the new shareholders of AIB are not as foolish or reckless with our money as the last lot.

After all, the State and the bank are likely to be doing business together for centuries to come.

Irish Independent

Also in Business