Attempt to halt AIB flotation struck out by High Court

Businessman sought to prevent Government selling its stake

A businessman’s action aimed at preventing the sale of shares held by the Government in AIB bank has been struck out by the High Court

A businessman’s action aimed at preventing the sale of shares held by the Government in AIB bank has been struck out by the High Court

 

A businessman’s action aimed at preventing the sale of shares held by the Government in AIB bank has been struck out by the High Court.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said the proceedings by Vincent O’Donoghue, with an address at Church Street, Dublin 7, aimed at preventing sale of the shares could not succeed.

In proceedings against AIB, the Minister for Finance, Government and State, Mr O’Donoghue, representing himself, sought a declaration that the proposed sale is contrary to the common good and unlawful.

The defendants brought a preliminary application to have his case struck out as bound to fail.

Granting that application on Friday, the judge said allowing this case would be an abuse of process and the claims were frivolous, vexatious and bound to fail.

In his action, Mr O’Donoghue claimed AIB’s “long and sorry history of catastrophic governance failures” demonstrates it is “incapable of operating in a lawful, responsible and complaint manner.”

In addition to the 2009 €21.8 billion bailout of AIB, other difficulties included those concerning ICI in the 1980s, rogue trader John Rusnak, non resident deposit accounts, foreign exchange overcharging, he claimed.

If returned to private ownership, AIB will have the sole focus of “relentlessly pursuing profits” for mostly foreign shareholders, he claimed.

No direct influence

In dismissing the case, the judge said no claim had been made out against AIB which has no direct influence on whether the Minister sells the shares or not. Mr O’Donoghue had also failed to show any legal impediment requiring the State to hold on to its shareholding with AIB.

The Minister owns 99.87 per cent of the bank, currently worth an estimated €11.3 billion, and the State has to date recouped €6.6 billion of the money put into AIB, he said. It was government policy to return AIB to private ownership and the evidence was the Minister might sell up to 25 per cent of his shareholding before the end of 2018.

If the orders sought by Mr O’Donoghue were granted, it was the defendants belief “a potential optimal market window” would be lost and a “very considerable amount of the public money will have been spent on an abortive process”.

Mr O’Donoghue had not produced any evidence to support his claim it was in the common good the sale of the Minister’s shares should not proceed, he said.

Mr O’Donoghue had failed to make out an issue to be tried and the balance of conceneince was against granting orders preventing the sale. Mr O’Donoghue was at no financial risk from the proposed sale while the defendants said they would suffer damage potentially ranging between extreme and incalculable if the injunction was granted