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Stress-tester Blackrock buys 3pc stake in Bank of Ireland

US finance giant Blackrock Investment Managers has acquired a stake of just over 3pc in Bank of Ireland.

The US asset manager is one of the biggest investment managers in the world.

Its Blackrock Solutions unit was hired by the Central Bank in 2011 to conduct so-called "stress tests" that probed the health of the entire banking sector here.

Blackrock Solutions is not involved in the current testing of the banking sector on behalf of the Central Bank, ahead of the end of the bailout, however.

That probe – dubbed the balance sheet quality review – is being done this time around by Boston Consulting Group as independent assessor, aided by Ernst & Young and KPMG.

Blackrock's stake in Bank of Ireland passed the 3pc threshold where a declaration had to be made to the market by October 24.

Its 906,448,446 ordinary shares are equal to 3.01pc of the bank's share capital.

It makes Blackrock the fifth biggest private-sector owner of Bank of Ireland shares.

The State, through the National Pension Reserve Fund's 15pc holding, is Bank of Ireland's biggest shareholder.

US investor Wilbur Ross and Canada's chairman of Fairfax Financial Holdings, Prem Watsa, each hold close to 10pc of the bank's shares and are the next biggest owners of the closely held stock apart from the State.

Shares in Bank of Ireland were up almost 4pc yesterday, at 26.6 cent each.

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