Friday 24 November 2017

ICB bid amounts drop as sale hits double stumbling block

Laura Noonan

Laura Noonan

THE drawn-out sale of the Irish Credit Bureau (ICB) has been hit by two major stumbling blocks, the Irish Independent has learned.

Sources yesterday confirmed that would-be bidders, who were once expected to pay as much as €100m for the ICB, have been unnerved by the Central Bank's plans for a new credit register

The initial group of six or seven bidders are also understood to have raised concerns about the ICB's current trading, after the bureau reported worse-than expected revenues for this year.

Both concerns are understood to have been reflected in bids lodged for ICB, which are believed to have come in below the €40m mark.

With a shareholder register that includes most of Ireland's major lenders, the ICB compiles credit history data which it then sells back to banks and finance providers.

Both AIB and Bank of Ireland, who together own about one third of the bureau, are engaged in a major drive to sell off their non-core assets.

The ICB's sale initially generated significant interest. However, recent proposals from the Central Bank on a new credit register are understood to have dampened the enthusiasm of potential buyers.

The Central Bank wants enhanced industry-wide sharing of borrowers' data, and may even set up its own mandatory reporting system to bring that about.

"Anyone looking at the ICB would be very aware that the Central Bank could end up doing the job itself in a few months' time, or there could be another company on the scene as well," one source pointed out.

"There's just too much uncertainty."

Irish Independent

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