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Cardinal 'no objection' to EBS takeover

THE US-led consortium that came within a whisker of buying EBS made no formal objection to the building society's takeover by AIB, it emerged last night.

In a statement approving the AIB/EBS deal, Finance Minister Michael Noonan yesterday said he had gotten "no third party submissions" in relation to the upcoming merger.

Some had expected the Government-instigated deal to be opposed by the Cardinal consortium, which was named as EBS's preferred bidder earlier in the year.

Cardinal's two leading figures, Dublin-based Nick Corcoran and Nigel McDermott, could not be reached for comment last night.

In a statement, the Department of Finance said the AIB deal had been approved because "there is no realistic alternative, which would ensure that competition from EBS would be preserved".

AIB has vowed to maintain EBS as a separate entity with its own management team and its own distinctive branding and product suite.

The Cardinal consortium also intended to keep EBS intact, but saw the building society as the starting block for a wider group that could have included Permanent TSB among others.

The Cardinal deal is understood to have fallen down because the Government felt the State would not be adequately compensated for its extensive recapitalisation of the bank.

In a statement, the Department of Finance said it had considered views from the Central Bank governor and the Competition Authority in approving the AIB deal.

The merger is now set to go through by July 1.

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