Monday 20 January 2020

AIB still splashing out on Arsenal box

Bank spends £100,000 a year to avail of luxurious facility at London stadium, writes Jerome Reilly

AIB Bank, which was bailed out with billions of euros of taxpayers' money, is still using its luxurious corporate box at Arsenal's showpiece Emirates Stadium in London.

The bank, which is expected to increase mortgage rates by another one per cent before the end of the year, is paying up to £100,000 (€117,000) a year plus Vat to entertain guests at all home Arsenal games during the season.

On Friday a spokeswoman for AIB declined to give details of any corporate hospitality deals the cash-strapped bank still retains at other big-name sports stadiums.

But she said that the bank is currently reviewing all of its sponsorship and corporate hospitality activities. "Some agreements have already been exited and some, which are subject to fixed-term contracts, may not be renewed at the end of the current contract," the spokeswoman said.

AIB also confirmed last Friday that it was reviewing what to do with its art collection, estimated to have been worth €15m just two years ago but which is now worth considerably less.

It followed an announcement by Bank of Ireland that it is to sell its art collection and put the proceeds towards its community and charitable investment programme.

Bank of Ireland currently owns 2,000 pieces of art, one of the largest collections in the country and estimated to be worth more than €4m.

Richie Boucher, chief executive of the group, told staff in an email on Friday that the proceeds of the sales would be given to charity.

Bank of Ireland has donated some of its most valuable works by Jack B Yeats, Paul Henry, Louis le Brocquy and Robert Ballagh to the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

The bank has been left with about 2,000 pieces, including other works by artists such as Camille Souter, Basil Blackshaw and John Behan.

"We now feel the collection needs to be put to work in a more tangible fashion," Mr Boucher said, adding that the remaining collection would be sold on a phased basis over the next five years.

AIB has over 3,000 pieces including paintings, sculptures, tapestries and photographs. The pieces include works by artists Roderic O'Connor, Jack B Yeats and Patrick Collins.

A spokeswoman for Anglo Irish Bank said any decision on the future of its collection would have to be made by its board and management in line with the wishes of the Finance Minister.

Sunday Independent

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