‘Brexit’ Vote Poised on a Knife Edge, AIB Chairman Pym Says

Allied Irish Banks Plc is “very well prepared” for all eventualities, Chairman Richard Pym said, warning that the U.K.’s referendum on European Union membership is on a “knife edge.”

All Ireland’s banks are contingency planning for Brexit, Pym said in an interview in Dublin on Tuesday. Pym declined to comment on whether the June 23 vote would affect the timing of the Irish government’s plan to sell down its stake in the bank.

“The IPO timing is a matter for the Department of Finance, we will be ready whenever they decide, if they indeed decide,” Pym says. “One would imagine that the people making the decision will take market conditions into account.”

While Ireland’s outgoing finance minister, Michael Noonan, had said he aimed to sell a 25 percent stake in AIB in the third quarter, the government lost its parliamentary majority in elections last month, casting uncertainty over the timing of the sale. The bank is almost wholly owned by the state.

A departure from the EU by the U.K. could put further pressure on sterling, hurting Irish exporters, Pym said. He said turnout could help decide the outcome of the referendum.

“If the young people don’t turn out to vote, it could be an extremely perilous position and Britain could walk out of the EU,” Pym said. “This could be happening on June 24.”

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