Belfast Telegraph

Bailed-out Allied Irish Banks returned to stock market

Ireland has returned Allied Irish Banks (AIB) to the stock market in a landmark moment that underscores the lender's recovery since it was saved from collapse during the financial crisis.

The Irish government completed the biggest European share sale this year, raising three billion euro (£2.6 billion) in a flotation valuing AIB at 12 billion euro (£10.5 billion).

The move carried an offer price of 4.40 euro (£3.90) per share and will see the state continue to hold a 71% to 75% stake, with a view to selling it off in the coming years.

Bernard Byrne, chief executive of AIB, said: "This is a landmark day for the bank and puts the total cash paid to the s tate since its bailout to almost 10 billion euro (£8.8 billion).

"The level of investor interest and support for AIB and Ireland is a great vote of confidence in the strength of the turnaround in the bank and the wider economy.

"It paves the way for the full recovery of the investment in AIB, over time, as we return to full private ownership."

AIB's exposure to Ireland's property market crash nine years ago brought the country to its knees and triggered a 20.8 billion euro (£18.3 billion) bailout to save the lender from the abyss.

The bank said in March that it had returned a further 1.8 billion euro (£1.6 billion) to the state, meaning it had paid back 6.8 billion euro (£5.9 billion) of the bailout fund.

The lender also reported an annual pre-tax profit of 1.7 billion euro (£1.47 billion) earlier this year, and delivered a dividend for the first time in nine years.

The initial public offering (IPO) will see around 90% of the shares go to institutional investors and 10% to retail investors.

Paschal Donohoe, Ireland's finance minister, said the IPO had created a "strong platform" for the government to recover all the money it had invested into AIB during the 2008 banking crisis.

He said: "The successful completion today of AIB's IPO represents a significant milestone in the government's long-held policy to dispose of our banking investments, returning them to the private sector over time.

"The offer was very well received and attracted high demand from investors everywhere it was marketed, reflecting the strength of AIB's investment story and prospects, and the attractions of Ireland's vibrant and growing economy."

AIB's shares will now be listed on the Irish Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange.

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