Lenihan in Brussels for Anglo talks

Lenihan in Brussels for Anglo talks

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan was set for talks on the future of Anglo-Irish Bank with European counterparts and Commission chiefs today.

With the nationalised bank €8.2bn in the red and facing a €25bn bailout, EC bosses are expected to sign off on their preferred option for the toxic lender this month.

Mr Lenihan is said to favour a 10-year wind down, with Anglo management pushing for a good-bank bad-bank split.

Last week Taoiseach Brian Cowen warned a quick wind-down of Anglo could ultimately cost €70bn and was not in the best interest of the taxpayer.

Reports of a rift between the coalition Government partners were also dismissed with Mr Cowen insisting the Cabinet was at one on the issue.

Senior Government representatives have been in advanced talks with European officials over the future of Anglo in the last few weeks.

Mr Lenihan is in Brussels for a meeting with Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia to discuss Anglo before similar talks with European counterparts at the EcoFin meeting on Tuesday.

At the start of last week, Green Senator Dan Boyle had called for an early wind-down of the bank over five years or less.

But it is understood Cabinet discussions on Wednesday finished with most ministers favouring an orderly wind-down of Anglo over time, rather than a rapid closure.

Anglo chairman Alan Dukes this week said the bank preferred to see a good-bank bad-bank scenario with 80% wound up and a new viable bank created from the remaining good quality loan assets.

The state-run bank, which has been funded by €23bn of taxpayers’ money, said it expected further losses as more troubled assets were shifted off the bank’s books.

Meanwhile reports have emerged that Anglo asked to be taken over by Bank of Ireland on the same day the Government met to decide on the bank guarantee scheme

A documentary to be aired on RTÉ tonight will claim that on the very day the Govenrment met to discuss the introduction of the bank guarantee scheme Anglo itself approached BOI, outlined it was facing the prospect of insolvency, and asked to be taken over.

While BOI refused the request, it in turn contacted AIB and both banks sought and secured a meeting with Mr Cowen and Minister Lenihan at which the banks outlined their concerns about Anglo.

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