AIB Profit Rises on Freed Provisions as Irish Stake Sale Drifts

Allied Irish Banks Plc, the country’s largest state-owned lender, said first-half profit almost tripled as it freed up money set aside for bad loans and interest income rose.

Pretax profit rose to 1.24 billion euros ($1.35 billion) from 437 million euros in the year-earlier period, the Dublin-based bank said in a statement Friday. AIB released 540 million euros of bad-debt provisions as defaulted loans fell and property prices rose. Net interest income rose 16 percent to 940 million euros.

“In the first half of 2015 we continued to execute our strategy to transform the group and as a result we improved our underlying performance alongside the significant net provision writebacks,” Bernard Byrne, chief executive officer since May, said in the statement.

AIB, which got a 21 billion-euro bailout during the financial crisis, said in March it was ready for sale, having returned to profit in 2014 after cutting jobs, selling assets and easing terms of defaulted loans. Finance Minister Michael Noonan said last month the sale of a minority stake will likely be pushed into mid-2016, with a narrow window for a transaction in November 2015.

“Whilst any decision on a future sale of AIB is entirely one for the Irish government, the results so far this year significantly improve the prospects for a successful transaction whenever it happens,” Chairman Richard Pym said in the statement.

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