The Irish government has sold a 1.1 billion euro stake in Bank of Ireland to a group of unidentified investors.
Bank of Ireland is the country’s last lender not entirely in state ownership and before this announcement it was presumed the government would take full control.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan said: “It has been recited far and wide that it is impossible for Ireland to get money on the markets. Now we have significant private sector investors prepared to put money into Bank of Ireland and that’s a strong signal internationally.”
Noonan said the identity of the investors should be known by Friday. Local media have said private equity firm TPG Capital held talks with the bank and that a Chinese entity and a Canadian investment fund were also interested.
Dublin has closed two of its six domestic lenders, merged another two state-controlled institutions and will soon take over a fifth. It has put a 70 billion-euro price on drawing a line under its banking crisis after stress tests in March.
Bank of Ireland was told to raise 4.2 billion euros in additional core tier one capital following the stress tests to ensure could cope with problems. The tests were required under the terms of the 85 billion euro EU-IMF bailout Ireland received late last year.
The Bank of Ireland investment news is the second significant boost for the Irish government after European partners last week agreed to cut the rate it is charging for a multi-billion euro bailout by two percentage points, a change Dublin says could save it up to one billion euros per year.