Ireland Said to Start Talks on Anglo Irish, Irish Nationwide

Anglo Irish Bank Corp. and Irish Nationwide Building Society will start talks with government officials this week to decide which parts of the state- controlled lenders may be merged following the country’s bailout, two people with knowledge of the discussions said.

Anglo Irish Chief Executive Officer Mike Aynsley met with Gerry McGinn, his counterpart at Irish Nationwide, to start exploring options last week, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. The government has told both companies to devise a plan by the end of January, said the people.

The talks mark the government’s first step to meeting the pledge it made to shrink the country’s banking industry when it accepted an 85 billion-euro ($114 billion) international aid package for the country. Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan estimated on Sept. 30 the cost of rescuing both lenders could be as much as 39.7 billion euros.

“Merging the remaining businesses makes sense from an operational point of view as it pools resources and can generate some cost efficiencies,” said Stephen Lyons, an analyst at Dublin-based securities firm Davy. “It’s not going to make much of a dent into the billions that it is costing to rescue them.”

The government might merge a unit of Irish Nationwide that oversees loans being transferring to the National Asset Management Agency with a similar division at Anglo Irish, which the government nationalized in 2009, said one of the people. Irish Nationwide has about 500 million euros ($668 million) of commercial real-estate loans that may also be combined with Anglo, the person added.

‘Swiftly Completed’

Irish Nationwide will also review options for its residential mortgage unit, which has about 2 billion euros of loans and continues to extend new credit, one of the people said.

Officials at Irish Nationwide, Anglo Irish, the Finance Ministry and the National Treasury Management Agency, which is representing the government in talks with the banks, declined to comment.

The restructuring of both banks “will be swiftly completed and submitted for EU state-aid approval,” the government said Nov. 28 as it announced the country’s bailout. Anglo will cease to exist in name within months as the lender is wound down over a number of years, the central bank said Nov. 29.

Anglo Irish Chairman Alan Dukes said Nov. 30 it is “conceivable” that the lender’s assets will be merged with those of Irish Nationwide as their restructuring is completed.

Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan said Nov. 29 that the deposits of both lenders will be transferred to other lenders. That may leave the lenders dependent on funding from the European Central Bank and Ireland’s Central Bank, Lyons said.

“The question of funding of both institutions hasn’t been clarified,” said Lyons. “They would have combined funding needs of at least 60 billion euros, and it’s hard to see that coming from anywhere other than Ireland’s Central Bank or the ECB.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Brennan in Dublin at jbrennan29@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net.

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