Shareholders approve BoI’s participation in NAMA

BANK of Ireland yesterday followed AIB’s pre-Christmas lead by copper-fastening its participation in the National Asset Management Agency, with shareholders almost unanimously voting in favour of the move at an extraordinary general meeting in Dublin.

While nearly half a million shareholders voted against Bank of Ireland’s NAMA inclusion, they only represented just over 0.1% of the share register.

Just under 342 million – or 99.8% of shareholders – approved the motion, comfortably exceeding the 75% acceptance requirement, as expected. Approximately 55% of Bank of Ireland’s share register is comprised of institutional investors.

The bank’s management re-iterated, yesterday, that NAMA will restore confidence to the Irish banking system and improve banks’ liquidity levels and funding positions.

Roughly 12% of the bank’s loan book – worth around €16bn of property-related loans – is likely to be transferred to NAMA on a phased basis, beginning in the middle of next month.

The bank’s governor, Pat Molloy, said he still expected NAMA to buy the loans at a 30% discount, but failed to answer directly when asked by one shareholder if he would resign if the discount proved to be greater.

Indeed, there were numerous calls for board resignations at yesterday’s meeting – including high profile removals such as chief executive, Richie Boucher and chief financial officer, John O’Donovan.

Mr Molloy said that he had full confidence in the current management team at the bank, but new members would be drafted in in the future, following on from the four board changes made in the past year.

“We have a strong management team making good progress and performing very well against the challenging environment which confronts them.

“I came here with an open mind, last year, and feel that we have as good a team as we could have confronting these challenges and they have my full confidence,” he added.

Mr Molloy also told shareholders that the bank’s participation in NAMA will improve its prospects of raising capital in the future, “should the board deem its appropriate to do so”.

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