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...MEANWHILE, BANKS ON BRINK OF PROFITABILITY

AIB will return to profitability next year.

That was the message from AIB chairman David Hodgkinson at the majority State-owned bank's AGM.

"We aim to return to profitability during 2014 and we are more than adequately capitalised to do so," Hodgkinson told the meeting in Ballsbridge.

He said that AIB's constant focus was on "ensuring that a return will be made to the state over time".

"The scale of the challenge ahead remains significant, however," added Hodgkinson.

The revelation is the latest in a series of good news stories regarding the Irish banking sector.

Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher had earlier this year suggested that his bank was similarly on the verge of a return to positive growth.

BOI is the only Irish bank to have escaped State ownership during the crisis.

Meanwhile, it has been suggested that the new European banking union could see some of the money used in bank bailouts returned to the taxpayer on a "case by case basis".


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