Nationalised lender Anglo Irish Bank could be closed for business in the new year, Ireland's Central Bank governor has said.
Professor Patrick Honohan said officials are working to complete an orderly wind down as quickly as they can, with a deadline for the plan set for the end of January.
"I think we're talking weeks. I think a deadline has been established which is early in 2011," the governor said.
The Central Bank said officials are drawing up a proposal for the wind down as part of Ireland's 85 billion euro International Monetary Fund (IMF)-European bail-out.
The plan will be examined by the European Central Bank, the IMF and the European Union.
"The objective is to submit and agree this by the end of January 2011, this timeline has been agreed between the Irish authorities and the EU Commission," the Central Bank said in a statement.
Anglo Irish Bank is on course to cost the Irish taxpayers between 29 billion and 34 billion euro by the time it is fully wound down - about eight times the original estimate and 8,095 euro for every person in the country.
The Central Bank said the closure plan would be in a revised restructuring proposal in compliance with EU competition law.
The running down of Anglo's loan book will take several years.
"These measures are designed to provide an orderly resolution for the future of Anglo in a manner that is consistent with EU competition law and agreed with the European Commission," the Central Bank said.