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Shame for the directors but financial disaster for investors

AIB's ejection from the official list on the Irish and London Stock Exchange is the ultimate humiliation for the once-mighty bank and is a shameful indictment of AIB's former senior management and board of directors who oversaw the destruction of so much wealth.

In the future AIB, the bank that graced the world's most prestigious stock indices, will sit alongside smaller companies like Donegal Creameries, Conroy Diamonds, Ormonde Mining and Total Produce on the Enterprise Securities Market (ESM), a list for small companies.

It's a spectacular fall by any standards. It's a disaster for AIB's staff and shareholders and for Ireland.

Just four years ago, AIB shares traded at all-time highs of €24 -- valuing the bank at about €23bn. Today, the shares are trading at just over 40c and the bank is to all intents and purposes in receivership.

The share-price crash has wiped out the investments of thousands of Irish people, churches and charities. There is little hope they will ever recoup these losses.

And Irish taxpayers can only look on in horror as the Government prepares to inject further billions in the months ahead to keep the bank open for business. Already the bank has received €3.75bn with another €9.8bn still required.

Plan for future

The bank's executive chairman, David Hodgkinson, is leading a team of consultants and accountants to come up with a plan for the bank's future. In the short term, they are working to the brief set by the terms of the IMF/EU bailout to restructure and downsize the bank.

Already the most profitable parts of AIB, including its Polish arm, Bank Zachodni WBK and its valuable stake in the US bank, M&T, have been sold.

Other sections of what is left of AIB, including its UK business, will be dressed up to be sold to whoever might buy them in the months ahead. This can only mean thousands of job losses and will leave the bank a hollowed-out wreck that is totally reliant on the Irish economy for any future growth.

With the Government set to effectively nationalise the bank with the next cash injection, politicians will be focused on trying to sell what is left of AIB to whoever might buy it.

Mr Hodgkinson is required to put it on a better footing and show it in the best light for prospective buyers, who will almost certainly ask for the State to underwrite any potential losses as the price to take it off its hands.

AIB's former senior management team, led by chief executive Eugene Sheehy and his lieutenants, Donal Forde and John O'Donnell, was part of the once-powerful crew that backed the bank's reckless lending at the height of the boom and brought the bank to its knees.

Ireland's top business- people also let everyone down during their time on the AIB board.

People like former Attorney General Dermot Gleeson, former Pensions Board boss Anne Maher, Glen Dimplex chief executive Sean O'Driscoll, former US Ambassador Mike Sullivan, the ex-CRH chief Don Godson and others contributed in some way to the demise of this bank and the pain now borne by its shareholders and by Irish taxpayers.

Irish Independent