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Plans to sell off IL&P's insurance arm will not go before vote at AGM


Former chairman Gillian Bowler who has stepped down at the bancassurer

Former chairman Gillian Bowler who has stepped down at the bancassurer

Former chairman Gillian Bowler who has stepped down at the bancassurer

IRISH Life & Permanent's (IL&P) upcoming annual general meeting won't offer investors a chance to vote on plans to sell off the group's life insurance arm, chairman Alan Cook confirmed yesterday.

The comments come three weeks after IL&P was told its Permanent TSB bank needed an extra €4bn in capital, a demand that will force the sale of Irish Life Assurance and leave the remaining group in majority state ownership.

Mr Cook was appointed to the top job just a week ago, taking over from outgoing chairwoman Gillian Bowler.

Yesterday Mr Cook said he knew there were "many questions shareholders have with regard to the future direction of the group and the prospects for their shareholdings.

"At the forthcoming AGM on May 18 I will try and address as many of these questions as I can in an open and transparent manner and will also take this opportunity to listen to your views," he said.

"By law, the business of the AGM has already been set out and agreed, so any decisions which have to be taken as a result of the capital and liquidity tests will have to await a further meeting of shareholders which will be called later in the year."

IL&P is drawing up plans to float Irish Life Assurance on the stock market as early as this summer, but a spokesman last night said no advisers had yet been appointed.

The sale of the life insurance company could raise as much as €1.5bn in capital, leaving the Government stumping up more than €2bn.

IL&P's market value has collapsed from €184m a month ago to about €40m, so a multi-billion government injection would all but wipe out existing shareholders.

Mr Cook yesterday said he "understands and appreciates" the "genuine disappointment felt by shareholders", who have seen a substantial decline in the value of their shares in the last couple of weeks".

The stress tests have already had "profound impact on the position of shareholders and will herald significant change in the group," he added.

And the consequences of that will "dominate our thinking and planning for the remainder of the year".

Irish Independent