AIB’s resurgence is a ‘proxy of the Irish economy’

Chairman says taxpayers will get back investment put in bank during financial crisis

AIB chairman Richard Pym:  the bank’s senior management team is in Washington, DC for the annual IMF-World Bank meeting. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

AIB chairman Richard Pym: the bank’s senior management team is in Washington, DC for the annual IMF-World Bank meeting. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill


AIB’s senior management team arrived in Washington, DC this week for the autumn International Monetary Fund-World Bank meetings, as chairman Richard Pym feted the “robust profitability” of the bank and pledged that taxpayers would get back the investment put into the bank during the financial crisis.

Speaking at a reception held by the bank in Washington on Wednesday, Mr Pym said that AIB had been a “proxy of the Irish economy”, returning to profitability and undergoing a dramatic turnaround since 2010, successfully raising over $3 billion when the Government sold the first tranche of its shareholding this year.

Noting that Brexit meant that the United Kingdom was becoming a “less-attractive place for foreign direct investment”, he said that this offered opportunities for Ireland.

“If you want an English-speaking country in which to locate your European operations, then Ireland is absolutely ideal,” he said, describing Ireland as offering “a bridge between the two major economic regions on either side of the Atlantic”.

AIB chief executive Bernard Byrne and chief financial officer Mark Bourke were among those also in attendance at the event, with central bank governor Philip Lane and Minister of State at the Department of Finance Michael D’Arcy due to attend the IMF meetings later this week.

Leaders from the world of global finance are gathering in the US capital for the biannual gathering which concludes on Sunday.

Economic growth

Earlier this week the IMF upgraded its forecasts for economic growth, predicting that the global economy will grow by 3.6 per cent this year, and 3.7 per cent in 2018 – 0.1 per cent higher than July’s projections.

In particular, the fund noted the strong performance of the euro zone area and Japan. But it singled out Britain as a “notable exception”, sharply reducing the UK’s long-term growth outlook from 1.9 per cent to 1.3 per cent due to the potential impact of Brexit on the British economy.

Speaking on Thursday, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said that she “could not imagine” a “no-deal” Brexit where Britain reverts to WTO rules. She noted that several issues are not covered by WTO rules, such as the rights of British citizens living in Europe and landing rights for airlines. On the current state of the Brexit negotiations – which are effectively deadlocked in Brussels – she said that “our hope is that it is conducted promptly to reduce the level of uncertainty and put people first and business second”.

Speaking about the state of the global economy, Ms Lagarde said that while the outlook for the global economy had improved, healthy economies should invest more, while those with high debt levels should concentrate on reducing debt.