Tuesday 21 November 2017

BoI investors back arrival of US and Canadian cash

banks

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

BANK of Ireland (BoI) shareholders yesterday backed a plan that will keep the lender out of state control.

At an emergency general meeting, shareholders voted to allow the group of American and Canadian investors to take a 34.9pc stake in the company without being required to launch a full takeover bid.

Under takeover rules, if an investor's holding in a company crosses 30pc they are required to make a formal bid for the company.

Shareholders, however, waived that requirement. The "whitewash resolution", as it is known, was carried by 99.5pc of shareholders.

The vote allows the investors, which includes the Canadian firm Fairfax Financial and New York buyout specialist Wilbur Ross as well as Boston's Fidelity Investments, to increase their stake and restrict the State's holding to 15pc.

BoI chairman Pat Molloy said the directors believed the group to be of "high quality, credible and long-term value focused".

Their investment "further strengthens the bank's share register and emphasises their support for the bank", he added.

Two firms involved in the group have "expressed interest" in having representatives on the board, Mr Molloy added.

As has been the case with most shareholder meetings involving the banks since the crisis began, the board was the subject of severe criticism from the floor and were pilloried for the destruction of the share price.

In response to a question on lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), company chief executive Richie Boucher said his firm would meet its lending targets to SMEs at the half-year stage but demand had been "muted".

Irish Independent

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