DUBLIN, Feb 20 (Reuters) - The value of Ireland’s 99.9 percent stake in Allied Irish Banks (AIB) fell 7 percent to 11.3 billion euros ($12 billion) during 2016, the state’s strategic investment fund said on Monday ahead of a possible share sale.
Last year, Ireland pushed back the timetable for selling a 25 percent stake in AIB, citing unfavourable market conditions, but Finance Minister Michael Noonan said last month that rising bank share prices suggested it might get the value needed to press ahead.
He has raised the possibility of launching an initial public offering (IPO) as early as May.
Similar to other euro zone banks, the value of Irish banks slumped during much of 2016 before recovering towards the end of the year. Shares in AIB’s main rival Bank of Ireland are up 50 percent from their 2016 lows, but still two-thirds below their post-financial crisis high reached a year earlier.
While AIB was worth 12.2 billion euros at the end of 2015 when its last annual valuation was carried out, officials in Noonan’s office had said last June that weak markets had cut the equity value of the bank to 9-10 billion euros.
A 25 percent sale of AIB yielding almost 3 billion euros on its end-2016 valuation would be one of the largest bank listings in Europe since the 2008 financial crisis.
Noonan has said the government wants to retrieve all of the 20.7 billion euros it pumped into AIB during the country’s banking crisis. His department said last year it would take between 8 and 15 years to fully reprivatise the country’s second-largest bank. ($1 = 0.9426 euros) (Reporting by Padraic Halpin. Editing by Jane Merriman)