I think we are seeing a bit of realism with the share price correction that is happening. I am not invested in BKIR at the moment. I have the price of one houes invested in other stocks and the price of a second house in cash, waiting to jump back into BKIR. The tricky bit is going to be when to buy back in! I watch avidly every twist and turn of this beast, rising from the ashes! Even the dogs in the streets know BKIR (phrase borrowed from elsewhere in our recent history) is going to come good and is inextricably linked to the recovery of our fair Isle. I just hope we don't end up speaking German or Chinese. Why don't we take more pride in our own language and promote it more proactively?
Wilbur Ross is no longer a hero of the Irish nation. Three years ago the US billionaire did Michael Noonan a big favour. He relieved the Minister for Finance of a burden. A bundle of Bank of Ireland shares changed hands at 10c each. Noonan saved over a billion euro.
Ross, Fairfax Finance and a few other bottom-fishers had bought a pile of junk. Or so it seemed. Michael Noonan, the schoolteacher from Limerick, had wiped the eye of one of the US's most ruthless vulture capitalists.
Richie Boucher, the Bank of Ireland boss, was delighted. Unlike AIB, his bank would now remain out of majority State ownership. Noonan would still hold 14 per cent, but not enough to kick Boucher around. Boucher was far more comfortable in the clutches of a vulture from the US than a social democrat from Europe.
Ever since Ross took his stake – and place on the board – Boucher and Ross have expressed public admiration for each other.
Boucher and Ross have prospered. Boucher has somehow survived, bolstered by the support of Ross and his co-investors. They share a philosophy. Ross is one of the few people who is not shell-shocked by Boucher's pay package, endorsing it at every AGM.
Boucher's and Ross's fortunes were locked together. Until last week, when Wilbur Ross began to cash in his chips. After a supposedly good set of results from Bank of Ireland, its chief supporter began to exit. Ross perversely painted the sale as a vote of confidence.
On Friday, before the results, the shares had closed at 39c.
On Monday, following the superficially fine figures,the shares began to suffer their worst week for nearly two years, finishing down 6c at 31c, a fall of over 20 per cent.
Ireland's congenitally bullish brokers muttered the usual excuses: some pleaded that world markets were down on the Ukraine crisis; another told me that the market in BoI shares was "constipated"; another that there were rumours of "one big seller".
The rumours were on the money. There was "one big seller" in the market. His name was Wilbur Ross. The other rumour, that he was fiercely constipated, was no exaggeration. On Tuesday the canny American sold a third of his holding at 32.8c.
The price looked weak on the day, but to BoI's constipated shareholder, it was a laxative. One of the most opportunistic investors to hit Ireland for many years was sailing back across the Atlantic, having trebled his money in just three years. He and his co-adventurers had unloaded only one-third of their holding, but that sale alone had recouped their entire original stake. Every dollar now riding in the market is pure profit.
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