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May, 2010

The Sunday Business Post has a two-page special on the pros and cons in buying Bank of Ireland shares after the announcement of a rights issue to bring in new funds.

Current shareholders have the option to buy more shares at a discount or find their shareholding diluted. The question is not so much about dilution – as this is largely irrelevant to small shareholders – but about whether it might be a case of throwing more good money after bad.

The collapse of bank share prices has seen the value of stock investments crumble. Two years ago the shares were worth €8.95 before collapsing to 77c in 2009. They are currently trading around €1.75.

The bank is issuing more shares to raise much-needed capital. Will it be enough? Who knows? The upside for shareholders would be bargain basement shares with loads of upside potential. The downside could be being left with worthless pieces of paper as the State has to move in and effectively nationalise if the rights issue isn’t enough to do the business.

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