Saturday 16 December 2017

IL&P denies conflict of interest in EBS bid despite NCB link

Emmet Oliver

Irish Life & Permanent (IL&P) has denied there is any potential conflict of interest in its pursuit of EBS, though one of its directors is the chair of NCB Stockbrokers, the firm advising EBS on the transaction.

Four bidders have expressed an interest in purchasing EBS, and NCB and KPMG are being retained by the building society for advice on the sale. NCB is chaired by Breffni Byrne, a non-executive director at IL&P.

A spokesman for IL&P said Mr Byrne had advised the board of IL&P of his position as a non-executive chairman of NCB. Mr Byrne made it clear that as a non-executive chairman of NCB he had no role in respect of the EBS transaction, the spokesman said. IL&P is currently chaired by Gillian Bowler (pictured).

The other bidders for EBS are Doughty Hanson, owner of TV3, JC Flowers, the US private equity company and Cardinal Asset Management, controlled by Irishmen Nick Corcoran and Nigel McDermott. The NTMA is handling the sale and a preferred bidder is expected to be named shortly.

If IL&P does not emerge victorious in the bidding round, it will be the first time a new entrant has come into Irish banking in several years.

The scale of the capital the bidders are prepared to commit to EBS is one of the key considerations, but some of the bidders are also believed to want a state guarantee over any potential future liabilities.

EBS, like Irish Nationwide, is effectively controlled by the state through a special investment share and any bid needs the consent of the Finance Minister and the Regulator.

Ignore

While the Competition Authority normally has a role in bank mergers, legislation passed in the past two years allows the Finance Minister to ignore the authority if he feels it is necessary.

Mr Byrne joined IL&P in 2004. He is a non-executive director at Coillte, Tedcastle Holdings and Cpl Resources. He is a former senior partner of the audit business of Arthur Andersen in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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