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Bank of Ireland To Sell Assets To Meet EU Capital Standards

Bank of Ireland (IRE) is planning to sell its business units to obtain clearance from the European Union for its restructuring plan, reported Wall Street Journal.

Reportedly, the business units likely to be disposed by the IRE include New Ireland Assurance which has a 19% market share of new business in Ireland and had about EUR12bn of unit-linked assets at the end of 2009. Bank of Ireland Asset Management with EUR25bn of assets under its management and ICS Building Society, which has a EUR7bn mortgages. However, the bank is committed to sell minimum of $2bn.

IRE is also planning to dispose its stake in Paul Capital asset management and the Irish Credit Bureau, along with its US foreign exchange businesses, FCE.

The proposed businesses for selling represent risk-weighted assets worth EUR900m and IRE expects that the sale would not impact banks long-term interests.

IRE estimated that for nine month period ended December 31, 2009, the divested business generated underlying total income of approximately EUR200m, underlying operating profit before impairments of around EUR90m, and contributed about EUR40m of underlying profit before tax to the bank.

Reportedly, Bank of Ireland is required to raise an additional EUR2.7bn in capital by 2010 to meet the new capital standards of the EU. The state has already injected EUR3.5bn into it and another EUR3.5bn into Allied Irish Banks (AIB).

According to the outlined plan, IRE would stop payment of dividends until after September 2010 and will not proceed with any materiel acquisitions. IRE expects that the European Union will to take the final decision on its restructuring plan by the middle 2010.

Recently, the bank transferred its first tranche of loans worth EUR1.93bn to country’s National Asset Management Agency or NAMA (called as bad bank). The Nama will buy EUR16bn of loans from IRE in total. It will also buy property and development loans with a book value of approximately EUR81bn from banks for around EUR43bn.

John O’Donovan, chief financial officer of IRE, stated that the the bank is now in a much more robust position to consider the option of raising equity.