Belfast Telegraph

Shares fall as Wilbur Ross sells £388m Bank of Ireland stake

By Ailish O'Hora

Shares in Bank of Ireland opened down yesterday morning at €0.27, or just under €0.05 off on Monday's close, following news of the sale of Wilbur Ross's entire remaining stake in the bank.

Deutsche Bank, which is selling the shares for the US billionaire, set the price at €0.26.5 – making about €480m (£388m) for him.

Mr Ross announced on Monday that he was putting his entire stake in Bank of Ireland on the market and that he was quitting the board.

Bank of Ireland also paid tribute to Mr Ross as an investor while chairman of the institution Archie Kane said he was instrumental in the bank's fundraising in 2011.

The Wall Street veteran has nearly tripled his original investment of €290m (£234m) in just three years. Just last March he raised €345m (£279m) with an earlier share sale.

Mr Ross reaffirmed his support for Bank of Ireland's future following news of the sale. He said it was on "on the right track".

He added in a statement that the move was "definitely not a negative comment on Bank of Ireland or Ireland. Both are clearly on the right track."

Fellow shareholder Fairfax Financial did not participate in the sale.

On Monday night Mr Ross said that he was also stepping down from the board of the bank, blaming a European Commission rule that bars directors from sitting on the board of more than three banks.

Bank of Ireland, like other European institutions, faces upcoming European stress tests. The Irish state still owns 14% of the bank's shares.

Philip O'Sullivan, chief economist at specialist banking and asset management group Investec Bank plc, said the nature of US investment interest in Ireland was "not homogeneous".

Mr O'Sullivan said: "Some of those names have arrived later in the cycle, whereas Wilbur Ross had bought into BoI in the middle of 2011, in the wake of Moody's downgrade of Irish government bonds."

Such investors would move on to other things after a number of years, leaving the way open for different classes of investors.

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