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Anglo Irish Says U.S. Assets Sale, Merger Are ‘Sovereign’ Acts

Anglo Irish Bank Corp. defended a sale of its U.S. loan portfolio that was ordered by the Irish government and its acquisition of Irish Nationwide Building Society, calling them “non-commercial, sovereign acts.”

Anglo Irish Bank made the statement in a letter yesterday to U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe in Manhattan, who had directed the bank to disclose whether it has sold substantial commercial assets in the U.S. and whether a sale of its remaining U.S. assets was imminent. The letter was obtained by Bloomberg News.

Fir Tree Partners, a New York investment firm, sued Anglo Irish Bank in February, claiming it owns $200 million of notes the bank issued in the U.S. Fir Tree seeks an order blocking Anglo Irish Bank from transferring any U.S. assets out of the country so it can force the bank to honor its debt obligations.

Fir Tree sent a letter to the judge on June 20 asking for an expedited hearing on the issue.

Anglo Irish Bank said the sale of its U.S. assets and its acquisition of Irish Nationwide Building Society in “the next week or two weeks” had been reported in the global press and were consistent with and anticipated in statements it has made to the court, according to yesterday’s letter.

Paul Smith, a lawyer for Fir Tree, and Walter Stuart, a lawyer for Anglo Irish Bank, didn’t immediately return calls for comment after regular business hours yesterday.

The case is Fir Tree Capital Opportunity Master Fund LP v. Anglo Irish Bank Corp., 11-CV-0955, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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