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EBS Says Cardinal Asset Management May Take Stake

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April 21 (Bloomberg) -- EBS Building Society is in talks with Cardinal Asset Management that may lead to the private equity group taking a majority stake in the building society.

Talks with Cardinal are at an early stage, EBS Chief Executive Officer Fergus Murphy told reporters in Dublin today. Nobody was immediately available to comment at Cardinal’s Dublin office.

“If this were to work, they could take a substantial stake,” Murphy said. “The soundings are good but the devil is in the detail.”

A private-equity investment could be an alternative to EBS taking part in a so-called third-banking force that may include rival building society Irish Nationwide, Murphy said. Murphy is still “hopeful’ about the third-force idea and said talks have been on hold because of the banking recapitalization process.

The Irish government last month told lenders they must raise new capital after lending decisions left the country’s banking system on the brink of collapse. Ireland set up the National Asset Management Agency to buy toxic real-estate loans at a discount from lenders, leaving them with a shortfall.

EBS is being advised by NCB Stockbrokers and KPMG.

To contact the reporters on this story: Dara Doyle in Dublin at ddoyle1@bloomberg.net Louisa Fahy at lnesbitt@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge at ckeatinge@bloomberg.net

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