BoI shareholder backing for €1.12bn investment cuts state holding to 15.1%

BANK of Ireland (BoI) shareholders have unanimously approved a €1.12 billion investment in the bank by a number of private investors, which reduces the state’s share holding to 15.1%.

Earlier this summer, it was announced that a number of international investment firms — WL Ross, Fairfax Financial Holdings, Fidelity Investments and The Capital Group — and property group, Kennedy Wilson would invest in the bank.

Yesterday’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) — the third shareholders meeting to be held by BoI this summer — resulted in 99.56% shareholder approval for the investment.

This reduces the state’s stake in the bank from 42.1% to 15.1% and makes it the only Irish bank to avoid nationalisation. The group of new investors now hold a combined 34.96% stake, with other shareholders controlling 50% of the company.

BoI chairman Pat Molloy told shareholders at yesterday’s meeting in University College Dublin that two of the five investors have expressed interest in placing representatives on the bank’s board of directors.

While the EGM lacked much of the emotion seen at previous banking shareholder meetings this summer, there were brief nods to the past — one shareholder asking the current board to condemn the actions of their predecessors; another calling for management to take a 60% cut to their wages.

One shareholder asked who would ultimately benefit from the latest investment.

Mr Molloy responded to the latter query by saying that the move is in “the best interests of the bank’s shareholders, as a whole”.

He added: “The directors believe the investors to be of high quality, credible and long-term value-focused and the increase in their holding above the 30% threshold further strengthens the bank’s share register and emphasises their support for the bank.”

He also stressed that each of the investors have indicated that they will manage their share holdings independently of each other.

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