News ID: 324279
Published: 1213 GMT September 23, 2022

Bank of Ireland returns to full private ownership

Bank of Ireland returns to full private ownership
Signage is seen outside a branch of the Bank of Ireland in Galway, Ireland. CLODAGH KILCOYNE/REUTERS

Bank of Ireland became the first Irish lender to return to full private ownership since the aftermath of the 2008-09 global financial crisis after the government said on Friday that it had sold the last of its shares.

Ireland pumped 64 billion euros ($62.41 billion) or almost 40% of its annual economic output into its banks just over a decade ago after a property crash had left its now mostly state-owned banking sector requiring the biggest state rescue in the euro zone, Reuters reported.

Bank of Ireland, the country's largest bank by assets, was the only lender to avoid majority state ownership and the only one on which the government has made a profit on its investment so far.

The government said on Friday it had recovered almost 6.7 billion euros in cash from its 4.7-billion-euro investment in and support for the bank between 2009 and 2011.

It earned approximately 841 million euros since it began the gradual sale of the state's residual 13.9% shareholding in Bank of Ireland in August 2021.

"Taxpayer funds which were used to rescue the Irish banks, should be recovered and used for more productive purposes," Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said in a statement.

"The gradual disposal of the state's investment in Bank of Ireland into a rising market has been successful in delivering on this objective for our citizens."

Donohoe told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that his department would resume a similar gradual sale of shares in AIB Group later this month while also monitoring the market for opportunities to sell a larger chunk of stock in one go.

Last year Donohoe said there was “every prospect” the government would recoup the money it put into AIB but that it would take longer than expected.

More than half of the 64 billion euro banking rescue that formed part of Ireland's EU/IMF bailout will never be returned after being swallowed up by two failed lenders, Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society, which were wound down.




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