Government decides main EBS offer ‘not sufficient’

THE EBS Building Society has been taken off the market, with the Department of Finance deciding that the main offer on the table for the lender wasn’t sufficient.

In a brief statement, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) said that the sale process had been terminated “following the decision by the Minister for Finance not to pursue any further the proposal to acquire EBS by a consortium of investors led by Cardinal Capital Group”.

The consortium — comprising Dublin-based investment group, Cardinal Capital and US-based asset management and private equity groups Carlyle and WL Ross — had seemingly pipped Irish Life & Permanent &in the race to acquire EBS in recent weeks and was offering to inject more than €600m into the company, as well as committing to what it called “an extensive and expertly constructed multi-billion euro funding and restructuring programme, to strengthen the long-term funding base of the EBS.”

The consortium expressed its “extreme disappointment” at the Government’s decision, adding that its bid had demonstrated “a commitment and goodwill to Ireland and the troubled banking sector… and offered much needed capital and expertise to the state in a manner which would have minimised the already significant burden on the Irish taxpayer and which would have aligned the interest of the state with the consortium.”

On behalf of Finance Minister Michael Noonan, the NTMA said that “having evaluated, at length, the proposal from the consortium, it was concluded that the bid was not sufficiently commercially attractive to the state to merit continuing with the sale process.”

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