AIB’s resur­gence re­flects econ­omy, says chair­man

Pym says tax­pay­ers will get back State in­vest­ment in bank dur­ing fi­nan­cial cri­sis

The Irish Times - Business - - NEWS - SUZANNE LYNCH in Wash­ing­ton

AIB’s se­nior man­age­ment team ar­rived in Wash­ing­ton, DC this week for the au­tumn In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund-World Bank meet­ings, as chair­man Richard Pym feted the “ro­bust prof­itabil­ity” of the bank and pledged that tax­pay­ers would get back the in­vest­ment put into the bank dur­ing the fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

Speak­ing at a re­cep­tion held by the bank in Wash­ing­ton on Wed­nes­day, Mr Pym said that AIB had been a “proxy of the Ir­ish econ­omy”, re­turn­ing to prof­itabil­ity and un­der­go­ing a dra­matic turn­around since 2010, suc­cess­fully rais­ing over $3 bil­lion when the Gov­ern­ment sold the first tranche of its share­hold­ing this year.

Not­ing that Brexit meant the United King­dom was be­com­ing a “less-at­trac­tive place for for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment”, he said this of­fered op­por­tu­ni­ties for Ire­land.

‘A bridge’

“If you want an English-speak­ing coun­try in which to lo­cate your Euro­pean op­er­a­tions, then Ire­land is ab­so­lutely ideal,” he said, de­scrib­ing Ire­land as of­fer­ing “a bridge be­tween the two ma­jor eco­nomic re­gions on ei­ther side of the At­lantic”.

AIB chief ex­ec­u­tive Bernard Byrne and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Mark Bourke were among those also in at­ten­dance at the event, with Cen­tral Bank gover­nor Philip Lane and Min­is­ter of State at the Depart­ment of Fi­nance Michael D’Arcy due to at­tend the IMF meet­ings later this week.

Lead­ers from the world of global fi­nance are gath­er­ing in the US cap­i­tal for the bian­nual gath­er­ing which con­cludes on Sun­day.

Ear­lier this week the IMF up­graded its fore­casts for eco­nomic growth, pre­dict­ing that the global econ­omy will grow by 3.6 per cent this year, and 3.7 per cent in 2018 – 0.1 per cent higher than July’s pro­jec­tions. In par­tic­u­lar, the fund noted the strong per­for­mance of the euro zone and Ja­pan.

But it sin­gled out Bri­tain as a “no­table ex­cep­tion”, sharply re­duc­ing the UK’s long-term growth out­look from 1.9 per cent to 1.3 per cent due to the po­ten­tial im­pact of Brexit.

Speak­ing yes­ter­day, IMF man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Chris­tine La­garde said that she “could not imag­ine” a “no-deal” Brexit where Bri­tain re­verts to WTO rules. She noted that sev­eral is­sues are not cov­ered by WTO rules, such as the rights of Bri­tish cit­i­zens liv­ing in Europe and land­ing rights for air­lines.

On the cur­rent state of the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions – which are ef­fec­tively dead­locked in Brus­sels – she said that “our hope is that it is con­ducted promptly to re­duce the level of un­cer­tainty and put peo­ple first and busi­ness sec­ond”.

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