Sunday 18 February 2018

Merged Anglo and Irish Nationwide to be unveiled as 'IBRC'

Laura Noonan

ANGLO Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide are expected to be formally unveiled as a new entity dubbed 'IBRC' tomorrow after the European Commission finally rubber-stamped the duo's merger plan.

The Brussels approval, delivered yesterday afternoon, comes almost five months after the plans to merge and liquidate the two institutions were initially laid before the EU's state aid commission.

The merger is now expected to be launched tomorrow, when a new name 'IBRC' is likely to be unveiled along with details of the entity's new corporate structure, management and board.

A spokesman for the Department of Finance last night declined to comment on any prospective announcement, stressing the confidentiality of bank restructuring measures.

Both institutions have been working to a July 1 merger date, so an announcement tomorrow appears inevitable.

The future corporate structure is unclear. At Nationwide's annual results briefing in mid-May, the building society's chief executive Gerry McGinn said issues around future management had yet to be resolved.

Granting the approval yesterday, the EU noted the "massive state support" both Anglo and Nationwide had received during the financial crisis, as the duo got a combined €34.7bn from the taxpayer.

Deposit books

Both institutions have already sold off their deposit books and will now follow a plan that bans them from doing new business and requires them to wind down their activities over 10 years.

"Today the state aid chapter on Anglo Irish Bank and INBS has been finally closed," EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.

"I am satisfied that the distortions of competition caused by the enormous aid they have received is satisfactorily addressed by their exit from the market. Today's decision allows us and the Irish Government to focus on the future of the Irish banking system."

Finance Minister Michael Noonan welcomed the move and described the impending merger of Nationwide and Anglo as "a decisive step" in the Government's "radical restructuring" of the banking system.

"The joint restructuring plan will resolve the position of Anglo and INBS in a way that will allow the institutions to work out the combined loan book over time and in the best interests of the Irish taxpayer," he added.

The plan does not include any reference to the controversial issue of forcing losses on Anglo and Nationwide's senior lenders who do not enjoy the protection of a government guarantee.

Mr Noonan has recently raised the prospect of forcing losses on these lenders, but has yet to formally seek agreement from the European Central Bank, which is expected to staunchly oppose the measure.

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