Bank of China, one of Beijing’s four largest state-owned commercial banks, is close to agreeing to take control of Goodbody Stockbrokers, according to sources.
Senior executives at Davy, which has also been in the race to take over its smaller rival, conceded to members of staff on Wednesday that they were unlikely to win out, having submitted a lower offer than the Beijing-based bank, other sources said.
Irish Life was also among three short-listed bidders for Goodbody, but sources had said last month that the life company, owned by Canada's Great-West Lifeco, was a distant third in the race.
The Irish Times reported last month that Bank of China was in pole position to buy Goodbody.
Spokesmen for Goodbody and Davy declined to comment, while officials at Bank of China, which has a branch in Dublin, could not be reached for comment.
Kerry-based financial services group Fexco owns 51 per cent of Goodbody, having acquired an initial 75 per cent interest in the stockbroking and wealth management company in 2011 from AIB for €24 million. Management and staff at Goodbody subsequently increased their holding to 49 per cent after achieving certain performance targets.
The latest development comes after Fexco and Goodbody management decided in January to pull out of a €150 million deal to sell the business to a Chinese consortium led by Zhong Ze Culture Investment Holdings. The sellers were concerned about how the make-up of the Chinese group had changed following an initial agreement in the middle of 2018.
Bank of China set up an Irish branch two years ago. The group also owns an aircraft leasing operation, BOC Aviation (Ireland), in Dublin.