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AIB's headquarters in Ballsbridge: the bank has held preliminary talks with investors who may buy some of the State's 99.8 per cent stake. Chris Bacon/PA Archive

Noonan: Nobody will buy AIB until there's 'more visibility' about its assets

The Minister for Finance says it’ll take some time for AIB to appear solid enough to find a buyer for the State’s shares.

THE MINISTER FOR FINANCE has said it will take some time before any investor might be willing to buy some of the State’s shares in Allied Irish Banks.

The comments came after Michael Noonan confirmed that AIB had held “initial preliminary meetings” with parties who might be interested in buying the bank, in which the State owns 99.8 per cent through a series of recapitalisations.

Noonan said the bank had told him, following those talks, that investors would “require more visibility on the bank’s performance, particularly its asset quality, before discussions move beyond the preliminary and exploratory stage”.

Noonan’s comments came in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin’s Sandra McLellan, who had asked whether talks had been held with any prospective investors.

“As one of the two pillar banks in the domestic economy, it is natural that investors will seek to have preliminary discussions with both the bank and the State in order to better understand the underlying performance and value of the AIB franchise,” Noonan said.

The minister suggested the deal struck by the State with a group of private investors in order to sell a holding in Bank of Ireland had shown “that international money managers remain optimistic over the outlook for the Irish economy”.

“As and when any concrete interest is expressed by external investors in making an investment in AIB it will be carefully evaluated by my staff and the bank to ensure that taxpayers’ interests are protected at all times,” Noonan said.

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