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IL&P black hole sees Bruton lose €50k on shares

Richard Bruton, the new Minister for Enterprise and trade, has seen his stake in Irish Life & Permanent shed almost €49,000 since the peak of the market.

Mr Bruton is listed as holding 2,140 shares, having joined the company's share register in June 2005. Those shares were worth nearly €49,000 in February 2007 as the Irish stockmarket peaked.

However, last Thursday's stress test revealed that Irish Life & Permanent needs €4bn to keep afloat. Despite plans to float or sell off its profitable pensions and investment business, IL&P is almost certain to be nationalised as it won't be able to raise enough capital.

Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore also owns shares. These were worth as much as €7,520 at the peak of the market. Now the shares are all but worthless.

The expected nationalisation of IL&P will see the largest number of shareholders ever wiped out in an Irish corporate brown-out.

The company's share register, administered by Capita, reveals that there are 135,000 shareholders in the company, many of whom are small individual investors.

This dwarfs the number of people who saw their shares vapourised by the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank and Allied Irish Bank. It is not clear whether existing shareholders will receive anything when the pensions and investment business is sold. Plans for the disposals by a stockmarket flotation will be presented in a fortnight.

Michael Lowry, the former Fine Gael minister at the centre of the Moriarty Tribunal revelations, is a shareholder. His shares were worth over €7,500 in February 2007 at the top of the market.

Former Irish rugby captain Keith Wood is another who has seen his shares all but vapourised. Wood, who led the Irish team while Irish life & Permanent was the main sponsor, holds shares that were worth as much as €13,000 at the height of the market.

Disgraced ex-Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean Fitz-patrick was also once a shareholder in IL&P, as was his former number two at the bank, Willie McAteer. Sean Mulryan, one of the top Nama property developers, is also a shareholder.

Some of the top former Irish Life & Permanent executives also appear to have sold off or changed their shareholdings as the markets tanked. Former chief executive Denis Casey, who was forced out after revelations of the controversial €7bn loan to boost Anglo Irish Banks, was listed as holding 21,621 shares in his own name last week. When he left the IL&P in 2009, company documents showed that he owned 67,624 shares.

Peter Fitzpatrick, the finance chief who resigned after the Anglo loan, was listed as owning 291,443 shares by IL&P. However, when the Sunday Independent viewed the share register last week, Mr FitzPatrick held 15,447 shares under his own name. David Gantly, the third IL&P executive to exit after the Anglo revelations, sold his 10,177 shares last January. He would have netted nearly €9,500 for the shares, which are now almost worthless.

Former chief executive David Went, who was at the helm of Irish Life until the markets began to crash back in early 2007, held 267,684 shares largely through two Aurum Nominees numbered accounts. When he retired, those shares would have been worth close to €6.1m.

Last week, those two numbered accounts held just 1,266 shares, according to the register. Mr Went may have sold his stake or moved the shares to another account.

Sunday Indo Business