Central Bank to keep balance sheet assessment results out of public eye

The results of the Central Bank’s balance sheet assessments of Irish banks, which is due to be completed by the end of this week, will not be publicly disclosed.

A spokesperson for the Central Bank said: “It’s expected that the balance sheet assessments will conclude by the end of November. The outputs of the balance sheet assessments will feed into the ECB’s asset quality review and comprehensive assessment which the Irish banks will be involved in.

“As the balance sheet assessments is seen as part of the overall comprehensive assessment, as announced by the ECB on Oct 23, it isn’t expected that the balance sheet assessments will be published separately.”

It is not known when or if the Central Bank will provide the banks with the results of the balance sheet assessments.

A senior source at one of the domestic Irish banks said the balance sheet assessments lacked clarity in terms of the criteria used during the assessment and the possible outcomes.

“There has been an exchange of information over the past month, but we do not know what happens from here or over what timeframe,” said the bank source.

The Central Bank declined to respond to this comment.

At the outset of the assessments it was understood that if there were adverse findings, this would be communicated to the relevant bank. In turn, this bank would have to provide this information to its shareholders.

The Department of Finance, which is the majority shareholder in AIB and Permanent TSB, said the assessments were a matter for the Central Bank and that it had no involvement in the process.

The original plan agreed with the EU/IMF/ECB troika was that the Central Bank would conduct stress tests of the three covered banks towards the end of the summer. The results of these tests would be published before the country exited the EU/IMF bailout programme next month.

However, the timing of the stress tests were delayed to coincide with the ECB’s stress tests in 2014 as part of the moves towards a banking union.

As well stress tests, the banks will have to undergo an asset quality review. The comprehensive review of the banking system is set to be completed and the results known by November of next year.

There had been market speculation that Bank of Ireland would wait for the results of the balance sheet assessments before it made a final decision on a share placement that would be used to part refinance €1.8bn in Government preference shares that have to be redeemed by March 31. If the shares are not redeemed by then, they face a 25% set up in value to €2.25bn.


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