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Noonan announcement on sale of £2.6bn AIB stake imminent


Cash: Michael Noonan

Cash: Michael Noonan

Cash: Michael Noonan

Ireland's Finance Minister Michael Noonan told his Cabinet colleagues yesterday that an announcement on the sale of €3bn (£2.6bn) of shares in First Trust parent AIB would be made "within 48 hours".

The announcement is expected to coincide with an intention to float document being filed with the Dublin and London stock markets and posted to investors through the markets' regulatory news service.

That will begin the formal run-in to what is in effect Europe's biggest stock market listing this year.

For Mr Noonan returning AIB to at least in part private hands will mean his seven years as Finance Minister ends with a significant recoup of cash for the exchequer from a bank that was close to collapse before he took office. AIB is the biggest lender in Ireland.

Despite calls to spend the proceeds on infrastructure, the cash will be used to reduce the national debt, the minister has stated.

That is partly because European Union rules make it difficult for governments to use the proceeds of one-off assets sales and windfall for day-to-day or even capital spending.