Irish Life May Seek 900 Million Euros More Capital

Irish Life & Permanent Plc, Ireland’s biggest mortgage provider, may seek to raise money by the end of the year if it decides to split its banking and life insurance units.

The Dublin-based company would need to raise 900 million euros ($1.1 billion), Chief Executive Officer Kevin Murphy said on an analysts’ call today.

The European Commission is reviewing plans submitted by Irish banks after the government bailed them out as the financial system came close to collapse amid surging bad debts and a credit freeze. Irish Life this year created a new holding company that would allow it to split, and Murphy said he’s “confident” the Irish bank industry will be restructured.

“We are ready to participate in that,” he said.

Like rivals Bank of Ireland Plc and Allied Irish Banks Plc, mortgage arrears at Irish Life increased after the economy shrank and real-estate prices fell by half from their peak in early 2007. Irish Life hasn’t received any government money since the start of the financial crisis and isn’t taking part in the state’s so-called bad bank, which is buying toxic loans from five lenders.

Irish Life said the economy may have started to emerge from recession. While arrears rose by about 19 percent in the first four months of the year, the number of customers less than 90 days behind in payments leveled off in the period, “which may indicate that they are nearing the peak,” the company said.

“The loan losses are crucial, as they help determine the level of capital needed,” said Sebastian Orsi, an analyst at Merrion Capital in Dublin, who has a buy rating on the company. “The arrears numbers are encouraging, albeit tentatively.”

Irish Life fell 16 cents, or 6.3 percent, to 2.39 euros in Dublin trading. The stock has dropped 28 percent this year, reducing the lender’s market value to 646 million euros.

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