I have previously indicated that the State does not want to be an investor in banks and will seek to exit its various holdings at the appropriate time and when market conditions permit. At its results briefing last March, Bank of Ireland indicated that it was considering a range of options relating to its preference shares. I can confirm to the Deputy that officials in the Department of Finance, as part of their regular interaction with Bank of Ireland management, have discussed options regarding the State’s current holding of €1.8bn of preference shares. Should an opportunity arise to sell the shares or have them redeemed, the transaction will be considered having assessed the best interests of the State.
As regards AIB, I remain very supportive of the bank’s efforts to return itself to profitability and ultimately generate an exit for the taxpayer. Getting the bank back to profitability as quickly as possible is the best way to achieve this goal and indeed support our economic recovery.