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NCB's €32m deal reveals extent of fall in financial assets

THE sale of Dublin stockbroker NCB for a potential €32m demonstrates yet again how much the value of even solvent Irish financial services businesses has fallen since the boom years of the last decade.

Last Friday, in a deal valuing the stockbroker at between €28m and €32m, NCB was sold to Investec, the South African financial services group. With Quinn Financial Services holding a 25 per cent stake in the stockbroker, an NCB sale had been on the cards for some time.

First, the good news. NCB fetched a considerably higher price than the mere €24m Fexco paid AIB for rival stockbroker Goodbody in September 2010.

The bad news is that even the higher price Investec has agreed to pay is merely a fraction of the €316m Davy management paid Bank of Ireland for its 90.4 per cent stake in Ireland's largest stockbroker in November 2006.

That deal, which was funded by -- yes, you've guessed it -- Anglo, valued Davy at a scarcely credible €350m. We won't see prices like that again for a while.

For taxpayers, last Friday's deal almost certainly signals that, even when a buyer can eventually be found for it, the State will recoup only a small fraction of the more than €17bn it has pumped into AIB.

The NCB deal is subject to approval by the Financial Regulator.

Sunday Indo Business