Minister rebukes AIB over call to sell stake

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has criticised AIB boss Bernard Byrne over his calls for the Government to sell its stake in the bank.

Recently, Mr Byrne called on the Government to consider selling more of the bank to private investors following the sale of 28.75% of the bank last year for €3.4bn.

Mr Byrne said the total value of cash received plus the 71% of the market value actually equates to the €20.8bn the state invested in AIB.

“I can’t tell you what will happen next in terms of valuations, so I would encourage people to look at selling down at this point in time,” he said.

The comments have drawn a sharp response from the finance minister who said such decisions are for him to make and not Mr Byrne.

Mr Donohoe, in an exclusive interview with the Irish Examiner, has said while he “heard his comments” the sale of the bank is solely a matter for him as the shareholder.

In a strong slapdown of Mr Byrne who called for the State to sell more of its stake in the banks in the short run, Mr Donohoe said it is a “matter first and foremost for the shareholder which is me.”

“I heard his comments. “That is a matter for me and the Government,” he said.

“That is a matter for me and I will take a recommendation to Cabinet,” he said.

“That is a matter for me as the person who manages the shareholding within government and for the Irish taxpayer in particular.”

“He was asked a question and gave an answer but it is a matter for the shareholder. His views, it is always important to hear them, but first and foremost any further sale is a matter for the shareholder, and the shareholder is the Irish Government and taxpayer.

“If there are going to be any further sales in the future, I will take a recommendation to Government,” Mr Donohoe said.

Mr Donohoe also said that the state will not see any return to the €32bn sunk into the now defunct Anglo Irish Bank but that the State should get all of its money back from the other banks.

If that is realised, the net cost of the 2008 banking crash could be reduced from €64bn to €32bn.

“I think the money, alas, that was sunk into Anglo because of the liquidation, we won’t be getting a return for the Irish taxpayer on that.

“It was very important, the agreement in relation to the promissory notes. Beyond that, in relation to the other banks, BOI, AIB and PTSB.

“I remain confident that we will get all of our money back from those banks. We will get it back. But timing around if and when we sell will be critical in doing all of that,” he said.


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