Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Building society taken off market

Finance Minister Michael Noonan ordered an expected deal on the sale of EBS to be shelved, it is claimed

An international consortium poised to take over troubled Irish lender EBS said the building society has been taken off the market.

The Cardinal grouping, which is backed by US private equity, said Finance Minister Michael Noonan ordered an expected deal on the sale to be shelved.

The would-be buyers insisted on Tuesday the latest banking stress tests - expected to expose more massive loan losses in Irish banks - would not impact on their plans to take EBS out of state ownership.

But after being informed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) that it would not go ahead, Cardinal said it was left extremely disappointed.

It said in a statement on Wednesday: "The consortium demonstrated a commitment and good will to Ireland and the troubled banking sector during this extended sales process and offered much-needed capital and expertise to the state in a manner which would have minimised the already significant burden on the Irish taxpayer and which would have aligned the interest of the state with the consortium."

The NTMA named Cardinal the preferred bidder last month in a two-way contest with Irish Life & Permanent, which planned to merge EBS with its bank Permanent TSB as part of a joint venture with the state.

In a statement, the NTMA said: "Having evaluated at length the proposal from the consortium, it was concluded that the bid was not sufficiently commercially attractive to the State to merit continuing with the sale process.

"The NTMA, on behalf of the relevant state authorities, including the Minister for Finance, wishes to thank the consortium for the significant interest it has shown in investing in the Irish financial system and for the resources it has committed to the process."

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