Brussels to look at legality of takeover


EUROPEAN COMMISSION:THE EUROPEAN Commission says it will investigate whether the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank complies with state aid and competition rules.

The Government’s decision to take the bank into full public ownership came just a day after Brussels had sanctioned its original plan for an emergency recapitalisation which would have been worth €1.5 billion to the bank.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan abandoned this strategy when it became clear it would not be enough to save the State’s third biggest bank. Mr Lenihan telephoned competition commissioner Neelie Kroes last night to warn her of the impending nationalisation announcement.

A spokesman for the EU executive said yesterday that an assessment of the Government’s nationalisation decision would look at whether its restructuring plan for the bank would include State aid and if this complied with the rules.

He stressed that the commission always took a neutral stance on whether firms were in state or private hands.

The commission is fast-tracking the vetting of all national aid and rescue packages for banks in the current financial crisis: the approval of the original proposed €1.5 billion recapitalisation of Anglo Irish was approved on Thursday only six days after Dublin formally notified Brussels.