EBS secures five preliminary bids

FIVE preliminary bids for EBS Building Society were lodged before yesterday’s submission deadline, the Irish Examiner understands.

Both Irish Life & Permanent and Cardinal Asset Management are among the bid makers.

It is believed also that JC Flowers, which has been on the sidelines of the Irish banking crisis since it erupted in 2008, is also among those battling to gain control of the society.

EBS has been effectively under state control since the current Government injected €100m into the financial institution following the transfer of bad loans to the National Asset Management Agency.

JC Flowers is also thought to be among the bidding line up. At one point it was regarded as a potential investor in Bank of Ireland after it held a series of discussions with a number of the Irish financial institutions.

It is understood that the EBS has also received two other preliminary offers for its assets and they are drawn from the international private equity sector.

Initially the sale attracted a lot of interest from overseas investors, as several private equity houses considered their options.

This process has been going on for quite some time and as far back as March EBS was in talks with Cardinal, the investment firm led by Dublin executives Nick Corcoran and Nigel McDermott.

NCB Corporate Finance, advisers to the group, have been in talks since March with Cardinal on behalf of the Irish building society.

Senior management at the EBS have led negotiations themselves with private equity firm JC Flowers, which is a funder of financial institutions who have run into financial difficulties.

IL&P re-emerged as an investor in the building society after it decided to expand discussions beyond the Cardinal option.

IL&P and EBS yesterday declined to comment on the state of play, but it is known that the society has five bids on the table at this stage.

Overall the Government has injected €350m into the EBS including €100m cash and €250 million in the form of promissory notes. The investment was triggered after the society announced it was to transfer close to€1bn in bad property loans to NAMA. The cash became necessary when the society was forced to write off losses on the loans transferring to the bad bank.


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