Belfast Telegraph

Anglo staff in limbo as split plan stalls

The Department of Finance in the Republic has admitted that Anglo Irish Bank's long-awaited restructuring may not be completed by the end of the year.

The situation leaves Anglo employees in limbo, as it is unclear what impact the split will have on their jobs.

The news comes two months after the Irish government announced plans to split Anglo into a savings institution and an asset recovery division that will run off the bank's loan book.

At the time, the Irish government stressed its desire to bring Anglo's fate to a swift conclusion and bank boss Mike Aynsley said he expected the restructuring to take place by the end of this year.

Earlier this month it was revealed that terms for the proposed sale of AIB-owned Northern Ireland bank First Trust and Allied Irish Banks (Great Britain) had been "put on hold".

A spokesman for the Department of Finance has confirmed that the split "may not happen on January 1", but stressed that it would take place "as soon as feasible".

Anglo's revised business plan was only submitted to the European Commission in the last week of October, prompting some to speculate that an approval may not arrive this side of Christmas.

Sources in Brussels said that a pre-Christmas approval had not been ruled out, while the Department of Finance said the commission was "working with all speed" to process the plan.

"The plan is obviously complex and the Commission has sought to clarify certain issues with the bank and the authorities," the Department of Finance said.

"The Commission will make a decision based on its own assessment and we do not have control over their processes."

A spokeswoman for the Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the final Anglo plan had been received, but said she couldn't say when a decision will be announced.

"It may be that the split may not happen on January 1 given that even if there is a decision by the Commission there will be a number of operational issues to be finalised."