FORMER finance minister Charlie McCreevy's new investment group NBNK is thought to be eyeing up a move for AIB's UK operations, which may be sold in the coming months.
McCreevy joined the board of NBNK, headed up by the former Lloyds chairman Lord Levene, just before it floated on London's Aim market last month. The company raised close to €60m in working capital when it floated.
The company -- described as a "bid vehicle" -- is now in talks to raise up to €4bn from investors, which it will use to buy banking assets that are being sold off by banks for regulatory reasons, sources told the Sunday Independent. It will then seek a full FTSE listing.
NBNK plans to create a new high-street UK bank and build a network of 400-600 branches to grab a 6 per cent stake of the market. Sources close to the company said it had already begun preliminary discussions with a number of acquisition targets.
While NBNK has been strongly linked with AIB's UK business, which includes a business banking arm as well as the First Trust retail bank, it is also thought to be interested in buying Northern Rock, the UK state-owned bank which may be auctioned off later this year.
The 600 branches being sold by Lloyds Bank are also thought to be on the predator's radar, along with the internet bank Egg.
NBNK has indicated that it will return the money to shareholders if it fails to make an acquisition within 18 months. Major shareholders in the bid vehicle include Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Aviva.
McCreevy earns €61,000 a year as a non-executive director. This will double to €122,000 if NBNK completes a major acquisition. He also holds 20,000 shares.
Since leaving his EU Commissioner job, McCreevy has also bagged a €32,000-per-year board seat at Ryanair.