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Irish finance minister in bank control threat

Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan is going to seize control of the Republic's biggest bank — and tell its top executives to leave if they cannot work under the new regime.

His uncompromising stance will kick off a momentous week for Irish banking and the economy, after AIB spent the weekend fighting the government's plan to take control.

In an address to the Dail on the banking crisis, Mr Lenihan will reveal that taxpayers may have to pump as much as €16bn into the banks — among them Anglo Irish — to keep them afloat.

That is in addition to the €11bn already spent on propping up the two main banks — AIB and Bank of Ireland — and Anglo Irish Bank last year.

Dublin will signal its intention to take a majority stake in AIB when details of the NAMA discounts or ‘haircuts' are also released.

While building society Irish Nationwide will have the worst discount at 60%, AIB is set to be hit with a discount of up to 40%, making majority State control all but inevitable.

The bankers, however, will be relieved to hear that the Finance Minister will not go for full-scale nationalisation.

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