Business

What the UK is contributing to Ireland

BBC business editor Robert Peston on Ireland's financial earthquake

The UK will provide a direct loan to Ireland of £3.2bn (€3.84bn).

The interest rate is expected to be around 6 per cent, although the Treasury is not confirming the precise terms.

Denmark and Sweden are together lending around £1bn to Ireland, so the UK's contribution is the biggest direct loan to Ireland.

On top of that, the EU's two multi-lateral funds will contribute €40bn of rescue finance to Ireland.

The Chancellor George Osborne believes he has wrung an important concession from other EU countries in return for providing this loan to Ireland: he has secured an agreement, I am told, that the UK will not be part of the new rescue fund for eurozone countries to be launched in 2013.

That will replace the existing rescue mechanism, in which the UK has a participation (the UK has a share in the €60bn European Financial Stability Mechanism, but is not part of a €440bn European Financial Stability Fund).

Mr Osborne hopes the eurosceptics in his own party will be reassured that Britain won't participate in eurozone bailouts after 2013.

I have also learned that the European Union is charging much more for its €45bn of bilateral and multilateral loans to Ireland than the IMF is charging for the €22.5bn it will be lending.

The interest rate being charged by the EU will be around 6 per cent, wherease the IMF will charge just over 3 per cent for the first three years and 4 per cent for the subsequent three years.

The relatively high rate of interest being charged by the EU is bound to stoke up controversy in Ireland.

In addition, Ireland will be contributing €17.5bn of the total €85bn rescue package from its own resources: €5bn will come from the government's own cash holdings and €12.5bn from its sovereign wealth fund, the National Pension Reserve Fund.

The average maturity of all the €85bn of rescue loans will be seven years.

Brian Cowen, the Irish prime minister, disclosed that interest payments on all Ireland's sovereign debt - including the rescue funds - will be equivalent to a full 20 per cent of Irish tax revenues by 2014.

He also confirmed that there would be no haircuts or write-offs for providers of senior debt to Ireland's weakened banks - though he said that the balance sheets of these banks would be radically shrunk.

Update 21:00 Of the €35bn earmarked for the strengthening of Ireland's banks, €10bn will be invested immdediately as fresh capital and €25bn will be held back as a contingency fund.

The capital is required because Ireland's banks have been set a new 12 per cent target for the ratio of their "core tier 1" capital to assets.

According to the Irish regulator, the Irish central bank, that means Allied Irish will have to raise an additional €5.3bn of capital and Bank of Ireland will have to raise a further €2.2bn.

The consequence will be that AIB will be more-or-less 100 per cent owned by the state.

As for Bank of Ireland, it is likely to have a stab at seeing if commercial investors will provide the €2.2bn needed. But the chances are it'll have to obtain the funds from the EU/IMF rescue pot, which means it will be well on its way to being fully nationalised.

Or to put it another way, Ireland will not have any kind of private-sector financial system for many years to come - which reflects the appalling risks these banks took.

The banks are also being cut down to size, by hiving off their more poisonous loans and forcing them to sell "non-core" assets.

In order to facilitate the sale of these assets, their value may be guaranteed by the state.

Update 21:10 The total British contribution to the rescue of Ireland can be seen as €7.8bn (£6.6bn) - consisting of a direct loan of €3.8bn, plus exposure equivalent to 4.5 per cent of the IMF's €22.5bn loan (or €1bn) and 13.5 per cent exposure to the European Financial Stability Mechanism's €22.5bn contribution (€3bn).

Interestingly the €3.8bn direct loan is greater than the UK's contribution would be if we were part of the European Financial Stability Facility, the bailout fund which is exclusively financed by eurozone members - which is contributing €17.5bn to the bailout of Ireland.

Or to put it another way, the UK is doing more than the basic minimum to help Ireland out of its predicament.‬‪

You can keep up with the latest from business editor Robert Peston by visiting his blog on the BBC News website.

More on this story

Around the BBC