Dukes in favour of Anglo split

 

Anglo Irish Bank chairman Alan Dukes has said he is uncomfortable with the public debate about the future of the State-owned bank during recent days.

Mr Dukes said he believed it would be more constructive to await the European Commission's discussion on what should be done with the bank, before discussing whether to wind it down or not.

His comments come a day after it emerged the Green Party has changed its official policy position on the bank.

The two Green ministers, John Gormley and Eamon Ryan, are expected to tell Government colleagues at tomorrow's Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the party no longer supports either of the options being proposed which are splitting the entity into a good bank-bad bank; or an “orderly” wind-down of the institution which could take up to a decade.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern was yesterday forced to deny a suggestion that the Coalition parties were at cross-purposes on Anglo.

Mr Dukes, who took over as chairman of the bank from Donal O'Connor at the end of June, said he was still in favour of splitting the bank into a "good" and "bad" bank.

"People have been inferring conclusions from the European Commission without any basis that I can see.

“The last statement that the Commission made on this (subject) was earlier this month when they agreed a further recapitalisation of the bank and what they said at that time was that the bank would have to undergo a further fundamental restructuring which is something we've taken very much to heart," he said.

"I would think from everybody's point of view that it would be more constructive to await the outcome of the European Commission's discussion before going into everything else," he said told RTÉ radio.

Anglo Irish today reported an €8.2 billion loss for the first six months of 2010.

This is well in excess of the previous six-month deficit of €4.1 billion posted last year and means Anglo has set a new Irish corporate record for a loss in a six-month period.

Mr Dukes admitted that it was difficult to estimate how much more funding the bank would need but said it was in a better position than it was in the run-up to nationalisation.

"The bank today is a very different place today than it was when it was nationalised and we are actually doing things which are in conformity with the situation we are in now and which will also prepare us for the eventuality, which I hope will come about, which is an agreement on a split," he said.

Mr Dukes stressed the bank had considered all options available regarding the future of Anglo, including immediate liquidation and an orderly wind-down.

"Our basic objective is to find a way out of this mess, whatever that way is, at least cost to the taxpayer," he said.

Following publication of today's results Fine Gael finance spokesman Michael Noonan challenged the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan to abandon his "misguided" policy of bailing out Anglo Irish Bank.

“There is a growing consensus that the final figure for bailing out Anglo Irish Bank will be closer to €35 billion. This is far in excess of the €24 billion currently being mooted by Brian Lenihan, in itself a shocking figure. But the Minister has refused throughout this disaster to give a final bill," said Mr Noonan.

“Minister Lenihan must now give a definitive figure for the cost of saving Anglo Irish. Taxpayers have a right to know," he added.

The Labour Party said the latest results reinforced the case for a Government decision on the orderly wind-down of Anglo.

"The ongoing Anglo saga is corrosive to national morale and deeply damaging to our standing abroad," said the party's finance spokeswoman Joan Burton.

"The Government should accept that the game is up on Anglo and commit itself to the orderly wind-down of the bank at the earliest possible date," she added.

Elsewhere, Sinn Féin called on the Greens to force Fianna Fáil to pull the plug on the bank.

“If the Green party are serious about their new policy on Anglo Irish bank, then it is imperative that they demand their Government partners pull the plug on Anglo or that they let this Government fall and the people will finally have their say," said the party's finance spokesman Arthur Morgan.

"Yesterdays u-turn in policy must be accompanied by resolute action, otherwise the Greens will be equally culpable for further wastages of taxpayers money into this black hole," he added.