Bank of Ireland debt sale draws strong demand

Reuters
Irish Minister for Finance Michael Noonan adjusts his suit blazer after an interview with Reuters at his offices in central Dublin
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Irish Minister for Finance Michael Noonan adjusts his suit blazer after an interview with Reuters at his offices in central Dublin December 16, 2013. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Bank of Ireland (ISE:BIR) raised 750 million euros (619.4 million pounds) of five-year debt on Wednesday in an issue that was more than five times oversubscribed, a further sign that investors are betting on recovery in post-bailout Ireland.

The country made a storming return to the international bond market on Monday, with bumper demand for its first debt sale since leaving an EU/IMF bailout in December, and the economy is slowly starting to recover.

The progress of Bank of Ireland, the only Irish lender to escape nationalisation and which has started to pay back the state for its 2009 rescue, has added to recent positive economic news.

Data on Wednesday showed unemployment falling to 12.4 percent, from a 2011 high of 15.1 percent.

Bank of Ireland said the order book was 3.75 billion euros, the pricing of the bond was 210 basis points over five year mid-swaps and the yield was 3.337 percent.

"The high level of investor demand for this five-year senior unsecured transaction strongly underlines the group's ongoing ability to access funding from international capital markets at improving prices," it said in a statement.

Bank of Ireland shares were up 3.1 percent at 1554 GMT on Wednesday against a rise of 0.5 percent on the broader Irish market (.ISEQ).

The lender, recovering faster than Irish rivals hampered by larger loan losses and weaker margins, last month raised 580 million euros in a share sale as part of a milestone deal to repay 1.9 billion euros to the state.

It was a timely financial boost for a government still struggling under one of Europe's highest debt loads.

(Corrects day of unemployment data to Wednesday, from Tuesday, paragraph four)

(Reporting by Sam Cage; Editing by Pravin Char)

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