AIB's head honcho says bank is 'fixed' and ready to float

Bernard Byrne looks to the "next phase"...

AIB's head honcho says bank is 'fixed' and ready to float

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AIB chief executive Bernard Byrne has given the Government the green light to float the bank on the stock market whenever it sees fit, as he offers a positive assessment of where AIB is at right now.

Giving a speech to the Leinster Society of Chartered Accountants, Byrne said the bank was now "fixed", "robust" and "in good shape" following its 2008 bailout and primed for an initial public offering (IPO), the Irish Times reports.

He said:

“The role of the board and the executive for the last five or six years was to fix the bank. This is largely done. It’s now realistic for the State... to look at getting all of its capital back over a time period. It’s our job to position ourselves to be ready for that value to be delivered.

“We have fixed the bank, we’ve done the work, we’ve remediated the issues and we’ve made it more efficient.

"Our challenge now is to move to the next phase. It’s about being quite different into the future as we face into a different competitor set.”

AIB is now 99.9% owned by the State. It received a taxpayer bailout of €20.8 billion following the economic crash and has since paid back €6.5 billion.

Market volatility has pushed the Government's plans to float 25% of the bank on the stock market back until 2017.

Whenever the Government decides to press ahead with the IPO, "we'll be ready to do that," Byrne says.

"That's my job and ultimately the board's job."

When it comes to potential partnerships, Byrne told the society:

“We obviously need to be very agile, flexible and nimble. Capable of significant investment in new technologies and new industries. We need to have the capacity to enter material partnerships and joint ventures that we wouldn’t have done in the past. And the flexibility to add new capital to support growth.”

AIB's pre-tax profit for the first six months of the year was €1 billion.

While this was €200 million lower than the same period in 2015, AIB chief executive Bernard Byrne told Newstalk that he was “delighted with the results”.

Its net interest margin increased by 16 basis points to 2.08%, with continued expansion expected.

The bank said the profit was driven by a strong business performance, net provision writebacks of €211 million and one-off benefits, including the sale of its share in Visa Europe. Impairments were down €1.8bn in the period.