Sunday, 20 October, 2019

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Bank shares surge on prospect of Brexit deal

Additional reporting by Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

Surging optimism for a breakthrough Brexit deal also sent the value of the two main Irish banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland surging by an unprecedented €1.5bn by last night. It came as investors piled back into sterling for a second day after the Thursday meeting in England between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and UK prime minister Boris Johnson.

Ahead of the EU summit, “the market is pricing it as a significant move”, said Lee Evans, head of foreign exchange trading and strategy at Bank of Ireland.

AIB shares surged 13% to gain over €1bn, while Bank of Ireland climbed 11%, adding almost €500m to its value. Other Irish shares hit by Brexit fears joined in the rally. Shares in ICG rose 7% and Ryanair gained 5%.

It comes as Mr Johnson looks set to throw the DUP under the Brexit bus after refusing to rule out splitting the North from the rest of the UK to win a deal. Mr Johnson twice failed to deny the widely rumoured plan, despite DUP leader Arlene Foster warning that her party will not stand for Britain leaving the EU customs union without the North.

In the 24 hours since the Taoiseach and Mr Johnson said they see a “pathway” to a deal, speculation has intensified.

It is thought any proposed deal would see customs checks at Irish ports and airports instead of on the border. It would also see the North officially leaving the EU, while at the same time keeping EU customs rules and tariffs.

It is also thought to include a potential plan allowing for regular votes in the North, through Stormont or a referendum, on continuing the arrangement.

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