Ireland's Cowen Says Allied Irish Banks May Need State Support

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said Allied Irish Banks Plc, the country’s second-biggest lender, may need more state support to meet new capital targets.

Dublin-based Allied Irish has until the end of the year to raise 7.4 billion euros ($9.3 billion) to reach new capital levels set by the country’s financial regulator.

Allied Irish “may need some help, but we will provide that,” Cowen said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness” with Margaret Brennan in New York today. “They have to sell some of their assets that are non-core.”

Allied Irish is disposing of stakes in M&T Bank Corp. in the U.S. and Bank Zachodni WBK SA in Poland as part of its plan to raise the capital. UniCredit SpA and HSBC Holdings Plc withdrew from the bidding for the Polish lender, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said today. Catherine Burke, a spokeswoman for Allied Irish, declined to comment.

Ireland’s government controls an 18 percent stake in Allied Irish after pumping 3.5 billion euros into the bank last year as bad debts surged. Cowen’s government has said it’s ready to provide more aid if needed as the economy emerges from the recession in the first quarter.

Allied Irish fell 2.2 percent to 90 cents in Dublin, giving it a market value of 982 million euros.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dara Doyle at ddoyle1@bloomberg.net; Margaret Brennan in New York at Mbrennan25@bloomberg.net

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