Anglo Irish Bank has turned down a number of speculative approaches in recent weeks from private equity firms looking to buy the lender's €10bn US property loan book at deeply discounted prices.
The offers, characterised as "derisory" by the bank, are believed to have been as low as 10 or 12 cent in the euro. That would value the American loans at roughly the level of impaired credit card debt.
It is not the first time bottom-fishing buyers have tried to pluck assets from the long-distressed nationalised institution. Private equity buyers were reportedly sniffing around the bank in late summer too, before the appointment of new chief executive Mike Aynsley and the presentation of Nama legislation in the Dáil.
But it is understood Anglo is rebuffing all offers at the moment, despite the fact that the US portfolio is almost certain to be sold as the bank either restructures or winds down over the next year, as disclosed by senior management at the presentation of the bank's interim results in May. However, major asset disposals are suspended for the moment pending the transfer of €28bn of Anglo's worst loans to Nama and the approval of its business viability plan by the European Commission.
Anglo has to submit a restructuring plan to the commission by the end of the month under state aid rules to ensure the bank is not gaining an unfair competitive advantage from the €4bn in capital it has received from the state so far.
It is understood the bank is seeking an additional €5.7bn to meet regulatory minimums after absorbing the expected Nama write-downs and ongoing loan losses. Anglo is already operating under a suspension of normal capital rules from the Financial Regulator until April.
It is widely believed in banking circles that Anglo has no viable future; consultant accountants KPMG have been working with the bank in recent months costing various options, one of which is believed to be a complete wind-down of the bank.
Anglo has already begun rationalising the business to "right size" for its smaller, post-Nama balance sheet. Earlier this month Aynsley announced 230 job losses across the business out of about 1,600, with a similar number expected in the coming year. The bank is also closing its Chicago office, although it will keep offices in New York and Boston.