IL&P still seen as main player

IRISH Life & Permanent is still seen as the lead contender to buy EBS despite strong interest by three international consortia.

As a result of bad lending to the property sector during the boom EBS undermined its balance sheet and requires €875 million in fresh capital to restore its solvency.

So far it has had €350m pumped into to it by the state.

By selling off the bank the Government hopes to minimise any further capital injection into the group.

IL&P is arguing that a takeover by it would save the state more money than an international sale.

Wilbur Ross, a legendary US investor, recently aligned himself with one of the bidding groups, that includes Dublin-based Cardinal Capital and the international Carlyle Group.

They have pledged to put €550m into EBS in return for a 70% stake. This would leave the Government with the remaining 30%.

Other overseas contenders are Doughty Hanson and JC Flowers.

EBS boss Fergus Murphy said he expects a sale to be tied up by the year end.

He has not indicated to the Government his preferred buyer, he said at a news conference in Dublin when he launched the interim results, showing the group made an operating profit of €25.5m.

After NAMA and other impairment charges the group made a total loss of €250m in the period.

Despite the uncertainty in the markets “there is a very strong possibility that there will be a sale,” he said.


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