January 9, 2011 / 1:19 PM / in 7 years

Bank of Ireland in talks with Mideast funds-paper

DUBLIN, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Bank of Ireland BKIR.I is holding talks with some Middle East sovereign wealth funds about their possible involvement in a capital raising, Irish newspaper the Sunday Business Post said.

Last month the bank raised 700 million euros in a bond exchange but may end up in majority state control if it is unable to raise 1.5 billion euros by the end of February.

Ireland’s central bank wants lenders to “overcapitalise” as a result of the 85 billion-euro emergency loan package agreed with the IMF and EU late last year, raising its target for their core Tier 1 capital adequacy ratio to 12 percent from 8 percent. [ID:nLDE6AR0KQ]

Analysts said the latest bond exchange would improve the bank’s core capital ratio by about 1 percent to 10.6 percent.

The Sunday Business Post said that a delegation from the Irish debt management agency (NTMA) visited the Middle East in recent weeks “to discuss the general possibilities of investment in the sector here through taking equity stakes, or the provision of funding by buying bank debt”.

Bank of Ireland executives also had contact with “a number of possible sovereign wealth investors”, the newspaper said.

Bank of Ireland was the first major Irish bank to meet the previous capital target, raising 3 billion euros partly through private sources last year in a move that left the state with a 36 percent stake plus preference shares.

As part of the bailout package Dublin has agreed to pump more capital into its majority state-owned domestic banks and will unveil its strategy for radically shrinking and restructuring the sector by the end of this quarter.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has said the government is prepared to inject state funds into Bank of Ireland if it is unable to raise the capital itself. Some 35 billion euros of the bailout is earmarked for the banking sector.

A delegation of Irish financial and central bank officials visited a number of Gulf states last month to promote its financial services industry. [ID:nLDE6B90IO] (Reporting by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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