Tuesday 22 October 2019

UK election won't delay AIB flotation - Noonan

Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan

Gretchen Friemann and Sean Duffy

Finance Minister Michael Noonan yesterday moved to quash speculation that the AIB stock market flotation would be delayed until after the UK election in early June.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Central Bank's new offices in Dublin's Docklands, Mr Noonan insisted the timeframe for the state-backed bank's return to the stock market had not changed.

Last week Bloomberg reported the Government was preparing to hold off the IPO until the outcome of the snap UK election, tabled for June 8.

But Mr Noonan stressed the initial timeframe remained unchanged, and that no date had yet been set for the share selldown that will reduce the taxpayers' stake in AIB by 25pc.

He pointed out the IPO had always been scheduled for some time between mid-May to early July and said the UK election "doesn't change the window".

"We haven't decided on any particular date," he added. "What we have said is that there is a window of opportunities for a variety of reasons between mid-May and in June and the UK election doesn't interfere with that window."

Earlier in the day, analysts had expressed surprise at the mooted impact of the UK election on the IPO, given British Prime Minister Theresa May's prospects of a sweeping victory.

The outcome of the French election has long been viewed as a key milestone for the deal with sources close to AIB warning the share sale, which is expected to raise close to €3bn for the Government, would be derailed if Marine Le Pen triumphed.

But shares in European bank stocks soared on the back of Emmanuel Macron's strong performance in the first round of voting on Sunday, raising hopes of a lift in investor demand for AIB's shares.

One analyst, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, argued a decision to delay the AIB IPO until after the UK election result would risk the deal running into the summer, when markets typically enter a quieter period.

Mr Noonan recently told Bloomberg Television in the US there was no pressure on the Government to sell a stake in the bank and described the dual stock market listing on the Dublin and London as one of Europe's largest this year.

The Department of Finance has drafted in a nine-strong syndicate of advisers to navigate the bank's return to the stock exchange, helmed by global co-ordinators, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche and Davy stockbrokers.

Irish Independent

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