Irish Bank Caught by NYSE Listing Rules Game (AIB, IRE)

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Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. (NYSE: AIB) has been in trouble from top to bottom from the financial crisis.  Things have become dire enough that now the bank has listing issues.  The bank noted today that in order to maintain an appropriate price range for its American Depositary Shares, it intends to change the current ratio of one ADS’s current representation of two Ordinary Shares to each ADS representing ten Ordinary Shares.  In short, it is declaring a 1-for-5 reverse stock split.

Today’s news follows an awful share performance.  The bank has been trading well under the New York Stock Exchange’s $1.00 price threshold over a consecutive 30 day trading period.  It is “below criteria” under the NYSE’s continued listing standards.  Even after an 8% gain to $0.82 today, the last day that the $1.00 share price was seen for the NYSE-listed shares was back on December 22, 2010.

The ratio change referred to here is expected to remedy the situation so that AIB is not delisted under the sub-$1.00 rule.

The Bank of Ireland (NYSE: IRE) is currently by far considered to be “the least bad of the bad Irish banks” as far as U.S. investors are concerned.  The good news for it today is that The Bank of Ireland is up 6% at $2.44.  That is well above the $1.00 limit from the NYSE.  Still, shares hit a low of $1.38 on the NYSE back on November 24, 2010.  Safe today may not be safe tomorrow.

The say to “Beware strangers bearing gifts.”  Today it should be said, “Beware ADRs bearing reverse splits.”

JON C. OGG

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