Expect Bids for Ireland’s EBS This Week

(Reuters) – Ireland’s EBS Building Society [EBSBS.UL] will receive bids from private equity groups and bancassurer Irish Life & Permanent (IPM.I)(IPM.L) in the next few days, sources familiar with the process told Reuters on Wednesday.

The state-run building society has set a deadline of Aug. 20 for offers and one source said three private equity groups – U.S. firm JC Flowers, Britain’s Doughty Hanson [DOUHA.UL] and Dublin-based Cardinal Asset Management – are expected to bid, as well as Irish Life & Permanent.

A second source confirmed the bancassurer will take part.

Irish Life & Permanent declined to comment.

EBS needs to find 775 million euros by the end of the year to shore up its capital base following a property market collapse and tougher regulatory requirements.

The Irish government has already injected 100 million euros into the building society and has promised a further 250 million of the overall amount through a promissory note, which spreads actual payments out over up to 15 years.

Dublin has said it would provide the rest of the money if EBS is unable to source the capital elsewhere.

Ireland’s building societies, which are owned by their customers and are traditionally conservative institutions, lent aggressively during the go-go years of the “Celtic Tiger” economy and have been burnt badly by the property sector collapse.

Ireland’s central bank governor Patrick Honohan signalled on Tuesday that the cost of bailing out another building society, Irish Nationwide could top the 2.7 billion euros already promised as its loans are transferred to a state-run “bad bank”.

(Reporting by Carmel Crimmins; Editing by Erica Billingham)