Apax Considers Bank of Ireland Investment

LONDON (Reuters) – Private equity firm Apax Partners is looking at a possible investment in Bank of Ireland (BKIR.I: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), a source close to the situation told Reuters on Thursday, adding its interest is at a “very, very early stage”.

Apax was unlikely to invest alongside other private equity firms, but it was too early to say what its potential investment could look like, the source also said.

Apax is “trying to work out if there is a deal to be done”, the source said.

London-listed shares in the bank were up 6.8 percent at 1050 GMT.

Apax Partners and Bank of Ireland both declined to comment.

Speculation has grown in recent weeks about potential investment in the Irish banking sector.

Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, who has said he welcomes “all expressions of private interest in Irish banks”, concluded talks with banks on Friday saying the National Pensions Reserve Fund could be used to supplement private investment.

The Sunday Times Irish edition reported that Bank of Ireland told the Irish government it needs 2 billion to 2.5 billion euros ($2.53 billion to $3.17 billion) to recapitalise its business, but that government advisors believe that is not enough.

By Laurence Fletcher

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Saul in Dublin; Editing by Erica Billingham)