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.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved