€70bn to bail out Irish banks

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The Independent Online

The final bill for bailing out Ireland's banks will be 70 billion euro (£61 billion) after stress tests by the Central Bank in Dublin detailed that four institutions need another 24 billion euro (£21 billion).

Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan said Allied Irish Bank (AIB) needs 13.3 billion euro (£11.7 billion) while Bank of Ireland needs 5.2 billion euro (£4.6 billion) in further recapitalisation.

Building society EBS requires 1.5 billion euro (£1.3 billion) while Irish Life and Permanent needs another 4 billion euro (£3.5 billion), he announced.

Mr Honohan said the refinancing lifelines set out were exceptionally conservative.

"Banks will be capitalised as the additional capital requirements announced today provide for future loan losses over the course of the three years on a scale that is unlikely to occur and an additional buffer for subsequent events," he said.

"The data assembled in this exercise has been published to enable independent analysts to see the basis on how we have determined loan loss projections and to create more transparency about the final costs of resolving the Irish banking system."

The Governor said the aim was to create a sustainable banking system through "recapitalisation, deleveraging and reorganisation".

The Central Bank said it wanted to put Irish banks in a position where they can fund themselves and generate cash without having to call on citizens to cover the bill.

The 70 billion euro (£61.6 billion) identified includes 46 billion euro (£40.4 billion) already promised since the bank guarantee scheme was devised late one night in September 2008.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced that the Government would reduce the number of domestic banks to two new "universal pillar banks".

Outlining a radical plan to overhaul and renew the Irish banking sector, Mr Noonan said Allied Irish Bank - once the country's biggest bank - will be combined with the EBS building society.

Bank of Ireland will form the first pillar of the new banking system but will be forced to sell off 30 billion euro (£26.4 billion) of assets by 2013.

Elsewhere, Irish Life & Permanent will be forced to sell its lucrative pensions division Irish Life.

Mr Noonan said the 24 billion euro (£21.1 billion) identified in the so-called stress tests was needed immediately.

"This is a significant sum," the minister said.

"The Government view is that there should be no half measures. If it has to be done it should be done without delay."

Mr Noonan opened his detailed explanation on the future of Irish banking with a devastating attack on the previous government, the Fianna Fail/Green Party coalition, which drew up the bank guarantee in 2008 and effectively lumbered Irish citizens with virtually all banking debts regardless of reckless lending.

"Tuesday the 30th September 2008 will go down in history as the blackest day in Ireland since the civil war broke out," he said.

"The 30th September 2008 was the date on which the then government extended the infamous guarantee to the Irish banks and decided that Anglo Irish Bank should be supported and maintained.

"It quickly became apparent that Anglo was insolvent in the absence of state support and that the other banks were in liquid and that the banking system was not fit for purpose.

"The banks were too big for the economy.

"The JCB and the swinging crane had became the logos of the banks and Irish bankers are as likely to be funding the apartment blocks in the Black Sea or dabbling in property schemes in Singapore as they were investing in the Irish economy."