Returning AIB to private ownership would be ‘right’ thing, says former CEO
David Duffy says timing would be down to investor appetite for AIB shares
David Duffy, chief executive of CYBG in the UK and a former chief executive of AIB Photograph: Bloomberg
Pedestrians pass a Virgin Money high street bank in Newcastle. The lender is subject to a takeover bid from CYBG, which is led by former AIB chief David Duffy. Photograph: Bloomberg
AIB’s outlet on Grafton Street in Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Having received a €21 billion bailout from taxpayers in the wake of the 2008 financial crash, AIB returned to the main stock markets in Dublin and London last year when the State reduced its holding from more than 99 per cent to 71 per cent.
When asked if the State should accelerate the sale of AIB shares, Mr Duffy said: “I don’t know that it’s about speed. It’s about when the investor appetite is there . . . but I would always hold to the belief that when it’s right, Allied Irish Banks being in majority private ownership is the right answer for every one of the stakeholders involved.”
This would make it the sixth biggest bank in the UK by assets with six million customers. Mr Duffy wants to position the merged entity as a creditable competitor to the UK’s Big Four banks – Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and HSBC.
“The competition model is changing rapidly,” Mr Duffy said, adding that smaller banks don’t need to bulk up to compete. Instead, it requires “smart partnerships” with fintech companies and other tech groups to compete with the market leaders.
Would the merged entity come to the Republic, where the market is in considerable need of competition? “I couldn’t commit to anything like that,” he said. “What I think we’ll all be doing in two or three years’ time is dealing with a much more existential threat from technology companies in the banking world, and the partnerships that are emerging between big banks and big tech. Rather than expanding geographically, we’ll be looking at ‘are there life-changing partnerships that would make a lot of sense’.”