Wednesday 22 November 2017

Deadline set for first Irish Life bids despite opposition to sale


Laura Noonan

Laura Noonan

IRISH Life & Permanent (IL&P) has set next Monday as the deadline for first bids for its Irish Life Assurance division -- despite last week's shareholder vote against the life insurer's sell-off.

Market sources last night confirmed that the August 1 deadline had been communicated to about 20 parties who recently received a so-called 'information memorandum' about the sale.

A spokesman for IL&P declined to comment or speculate on how many bids the company was hoping to get, citing the confidentiality of the process. Ireland's biggest life insurer is believed to have attracted initial interest from locally active market giants, including Allianz and Zurich, as well as industry players that don't have a major footprint here, such as Met Life.

Life insurance sources say some local operations may find it hard to convince their parents of the merits of investing more money in Ireland, given the country's precarious financial situation.

Several people close to the bidding process also feel that the sale may ultimately fall behind its October deadline, particularly since IL&P will be fully recapitalised by the State on July 31.

The progress on the life insurance sale comes just days after shareholders used an extraordinary general meeting to vote against the business's sale.

IL&P's management argue that they have no choice but to go ahead with the sale, given the €4bn capital target imposed on the bank by the March stress tests.

The Government is expected to take matters into its own hands over the coming days by applying for a court order that would force IL&P to accept a bailout and proceed with the life insurance sale.

A protester group of shareholders, led by Malta-based Scotchstone Capital, has already retained lawyers to fight this court action and yesterday said the €1.1bn of private investment in Bank of Ireland was further proof that private investors could be found for IL&P.

Irish Independent

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