The Deputy is aware that the Government does not see itself as a long-term investor in the banking sector. The funds used to make these investments are a diversion of taxpayer resources that could be put to better use. Equity investments are also risky and this particularly applies to bank shares as this country knows to its cost. Accordingly, the Government’s policy is to return fully each of the banks in which the State has a shareholding to private ownership.
Officials in my Department monitor the performance of AIB, Permanent TSB and Bank of Ireland, their share prices and equity markets more generally on an ongoing basis to determine the next sensible opportunity to realise value from these investments.
It is important to point out that exiting our investments in these banks in a sensible measured way which will optimise value for our citizens will take a number of years. I do not propose to set out a rigid timeline for disposal as this would not be in the country's interests.
Our policy is consistent across all three banks. There are no defined or planned changes in policy related to share price movements other than the requirement to realise value from these investments. All three banks in which the State holds shares are performing well but investor appetite for bank shares has waned over the past year, due in large part to a change in interest rate expectations as growth in the Eurozone has slowed.
Any decision to sell further shares will be made having taken the best advice both internal and external.