Wednesday 21 February 2018

Government will sell up to 25pc of AIB - Noonan

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said the Government will not put more than 25pc of AIB on the market before the elections.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV in London, the minister said a sale would take place "at the back end of this year" or into next year. "We need to restructure the shareholding first," Mr Noonan said.

"It will be at the very back end of this year, if we move this year, otherwise it will go into 2016 and we will not put more than a quarter of it on the market in the first instance."

It is not yet clear whether the Government is planning a sale of the bank to a buyer or whether it will launch a share sale. The Government has appointed Goldman Sachs to advise on options for the bank.

Mr Noonan also said that he expected a new chief executive for AIB, to replace David Duffy, in the next two months, or perhaps sooner, with the short-list already completed.

He also said he didn't see a sale of the State's Bank of Ireland stake before the next election.

Mr Noonan told the Blomberg event that Ireland was not going to go back into the cycle of boom and busts.

He predicted steady growth of between 3pc and 4pc over the coming years.

"The tradition in Ireland is for people to own their own homes so there is a big demand again in Ireland for young couples to form families and they see owning their own home as one of the prerequisites of a family formation," he said.

Mr Noonan added: "That will continue, but our Central Bank has taken macro prudential measures to control the availability of finance.

"We'll be very watchful into the future on that issue. We don't want the boom and bust cycle again."

On Greece, Mr Noonan said that discussions between the Greek government and the Eurogroup had been "heated", but this was not the case during the conference call between Eurozone finance ministers on Tuesday when the Greek economic reform plan was signed off. He said that while Ireland doesn't want to see a Greek debt write-off, the country may be able to extend maturities. More than 200 people signed up to take part in a Q&A session in Bloomberg involving the minister. The programme also involved a meeting with institutional equity investors where Minister Noonan took part in a round-table discussion.

"My key message is clear - the recovery is well under way, the economy is growing and Ireland is open for business," Mr Noonan said, ahead of the event.

"I will be outlining the benefits that the economic, fiscal and financial stability has brought to Ireland."

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