|Bank of Ireland headquarters, Baggot Street, Dublin
Loan transfers to the "bad bank," the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) are likely to be delayed until 2010, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said yesterday, on a day when Irish banks again were subject to a wave of selling on stock markets.
Shares in Allied Irish Banks (AIB) tumbled 11.9% on Wednesday to €1.85, while Bank of Ireland slid 25% to €1.65, making it the worst hit financial stock in western Europe.
AIB has shed a quarter of its value since Dutch financial group ING was forced by the European Commission on Monday to sell off its insurance unit in return for €10bn of state aid. Bank of Ireland's value has fallen by over a third since then.
The NAMA delay and fall in share prices will make it more difficult for the two big Irish banks to raise new capital from the markets, which they had been planning to do before the end of the year.
EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes, a native of the Netherlands, gave no favours to ING and she is a tough politician who has taken on US tech giants Microsoft and Intel.
AIB, Bank of Ireland and the nationalised former builders' bank Anglo Irish Bank, will all have to submit restructuring plans to the European Commission by the end of next month, arising from their combined €11bn recapitalisation by the State this year.
Brian Lenihan told the Dáil Finance Committee on Wednesday that the protracted debate on the NAMA Bill could delay the transfer of property loans with a nominal value of €77 billion, to the agency.
Speaking on the committee stage debate of the Bill, he said the business plan for NAMA had envisaged that a sizeable amount of the work would start by Christmas.
“That time limit could easily slip into January at the rate we are proceeding,”said the Minister.