Government confirms plan to sell 25% of State's AIB shares

Michael Noonan says it is part of the "continued normalisation of the State’s involvement in Ireland’s banking system"

Government confirms plan to sell 25% of State's AIB shares

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The Minister for Finance has confirmed his intention to proceed with an Initial Public Offering of AIB by selling some shares over the coming weeks.

Minister Noonan is intending to float around 25% of the bank's ordinary shares.

The shares will be available to institutional investors in 'qualifying jurisdictions' - including Ireland the UK - and "to participating intermediaries who will facilitate the participation of their retail investor client".

In a statement, Michael Noonan said: “The Government’s long-held policy is that the State should exit its banking investments in a measured and prudent manner, returning ownership to the private sector over time. 

"Today’s decision is a significant step in the continued normalisation of the State’s involvement in Ireland’s banking system and reaffirms the Government’s commitment to recovering its investment in AIB for the benefit of the Irish people.”

Bernard Byrne, CEO of AIB, added: "Our strategy is clear. We have restructured the bank to deliver a simple and efficient customer led service offering. We are clear on our risk appetite and the capital we need to support it, all underpinned by the right people and a customer led culture."

The State currently owns around 99.9% of AIB's ordinary shares. It has invested around €20.8bn in the bank since 2009, and the Department of Finance says €6.6bn has been returned in the form of "capital, fees, dividends and coupons".

The sale - which is set to begin in mid-June - is expected to raise around €3bn.

Ahead of today's announcement, the proposed sale had already drawn controversy.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin yesterday slammed the process as 'undemocratic', highlighting Minister Noonan's announcement that he will not be looking for a place in the next Fine Gael leader's cabinet. 

"They should leave it to an incoming cabinet to make a decision and if the decision is the same, that incoming cabinet should seek the approval of Dáil Eireann," he argued.

Earlier this month, the Dáil passed a motion that they shouldn't sell off any shares in AIB until the fiscal rules are changed.