Treasury Secretary Paschal Donohoe said he expected to announce shortly that the state’s direct holding in the Bank of Ireland had been “reduced to zero”.
This will be an important milestone in the implementation of the government’s policy to bring banks back to private ownership,” he told the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform.
He added that proceeds from Bank of Ireland’s share trading scheme will be “well over” €800m since its inception.
In April, the finance minister extended the stock trading plan, with the third phase of the plan expected to end no later than October 18.
Taxpayers owned less than 5 percent of the lender in April, down from 13.9 percent when the plan first began last summer.
The removal of the state’s stake in Bank of Ireland also comes as the bank prepares to appoint a new chief executive and is expected to raise questions around the existing bank salary cap.
This requires BOI, AIB and Permanent TSB to cap the top manager’s salary at €500,000.
He also highlighted that the government sold a 5 percent stake in AIB in June.
Minister Donohoe commented that “a really significant degree of change” is also underway with regard to future interest rate policy, as indicated by the ESB.
“Any changes [to interest rates] that are made to try to avoid inflation, which leaves us poorer for longer,” he told the committee.
Last week, the ECB raised interest rates by 0.75 percentage points.
The finance minister also spoke about the imminent exit of Ulster Bank and KBC from the Irish market, saying that “there is no reason to be prematurely satisfied” with the current switching activity.
Around 70,000 people open new bank accounts every month.
In August, the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) announced that 365,000 new accounts had been opened with the remaining banks, credit unions or An Post.
“It’s a long road,” he said. “The exit of Ulster Bank and what it means for consumers is one of the biggest things that has ever happened in Irish banking from a consumer perspective.”
He said the process had been aided by the central bank’s engagement with the banks involved, as well as the ongoing publicity campaign to encourage the switch.
BPFI is now working directly with utilities to make payment switching “as easy as possible”.
The finance minister also came under pressure from opposition politicians over the AIB’s proposal, announced on July 19, to remove cash services from 70 branches.
“I became aware of this matter myself on Tuesday, July 19,” he said.
The bank scrapped plans to end services on Friday, July 22.
“It is very clear that this generated and provoked a very significant reaction on behalf of the public that should have been expected,” he added, praising the bank for reversing its decision to end cash services within days .
https://www.independent.ie/business/irish/paschal-donohoe-says-final-exit-of-bank-of-ireland-stake-is-now-imminent-42007125.html According to Paschal Donohoe, the final exit from the Bank of Ireland’s stake is imminent