MINISTER TO MAKE A BANG
The “big bang” is the theory that astronomers and physicists use to explain the formation of the universe. It is not a phrase you would ordinarily expect to find on the finance pages of the national newspapers but it has taken up residence there over the past few weeks as we await a series of announcements that will shape the banking sector, and thus the economy, of this country for the foreseeable future. There will be a statement from Nama (National Asset Management Agency) on the amount it plans to pay for the first €17 billion of bad debts it will accept from the banks.This will leave the Central Bank to determine the capital requirements of the banks and then we will have the “big bang”, as Finance Minister Brian Lenihan’s strategy for the recapitalisation and consolidation of the institutions covered by the September 2008 bank guarantee scheme is being called.
As the Sunday Tribune put it yesterday, the next ten days should be the most momentous in Irish banking as the Government, the Central Bank and Nama “set the fuse on a chain reaction of events that promised to reshape the landscape of the banking industry”.
Several banks have delayed their annual results until the end of the month as they await Lenihan’s statement. Bank of Ireland and Anglo Irish Bank had been expected to announce figures for 2009 this week but they are now holding off in deference to the Government’s timetable.