State still plans to sell AIB shares within six months

The Government is still planning to sell shares in AIB at the first opportunity, in May or June, the Irish Examiner understands, as the bank last night announced a huge programme of bank closures and 130 voluntary job losses at its unit in the North.

A Government source told the Irish Examiner it was still looking at “the first window” of opportunity for an IPO.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan last month said that May or June was the first date that it had in mind for selling shares in AIB, which was reissued at huge cost to taxpayers during the financial crisis.

Analysts have said that the Government will seek to raise as much as €3bn by selling a 25% stake of AIB.

AIB’s Northern unit First Trust said the decision to shut 15 of its 30 branches came following an 18-month review and was taken after it had experienced a significant drop off in customers using the branches.

The decision was not linked to any long standing plans the Government has to launch an initial public offering of shares in the bank, the bank stated.

Larry Broderick, secretary general of the Financial Services Union, said the scale of AIB’s plans was a “a serious blow for staff, customers and the Northern Ireland economy.”

“While staff were aware of an ongoing restructuring plan at FTB the scale of closures announced today has come as a shock to staff. Great teams in bank branches, many who have served their community for many years, now face the prospect closure and relocation. It is a major blow.

“The recent pay and job security deal accepted by staff in AIB Group, which includes First Trust Bank, will ensure that there are no compulsory redundancies as a result of this announcement.”



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