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Noonan exploring bondholder burning plan

Minister for Finance and the ECB president are likely to discuss Noonan’s plan of imposing losses on senior Anglo and INBS bondholders next week.

MINISTER MICHAEL NOONAN is likely to meet with ECB president next week to discuss his plan to burn senior unguaranteed bondholders at Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society to the tune of around €3.5 billion.

Announcing his plan while in Washington in mid-June, Noonan said that the IMF supported his bid to burn the senior bondholders. However, he said at the time that the “difficulty” in his project was what attitude the ECB might take to it.

Around €750 million of the debt owed on the bonds is due to be repaid on 2 November.

At the government’s ’100 days’ press conference in June, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore indicated that it would not press ahead with imposing bondholder losses without the ECB’s approval. One senior bond trader told the Financial Times at the time of Noonan’s announcement that the ECB was unlikely to agree to such a move, given it was not included in the bailout deal agreed in November 2010.

The Department of Finance said that no formal meeting has been arranged between Noonan and ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet, who is nearing the end of his term. However, the two are likely to meet informally during a meeting of European finance ministers in Wroclaw, Poland, on 16 and 17 September.

Meanwhile, speaking at the close of the Fine Gael party think-in in Galway yesterday, Minister Noonan said that this year’s budget cuts would be around two-thirds of what was introduced last year, suggesting the cuts would hit the €4bn mark.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said yesterday that “everything is on the table” in terms of possible cuts. Kenny also said that the government would publish its three-year financial plan next month.

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