Ireland's second-largest bank, Allied Irish Banks, has returned to profit for the first time since a 2008 property crash pushed the nation to the brink of bankruptcy.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan said Wednesday's first-half results exceeded expectations and made it more likely that the government could sell its stake in the nationalized bank at a profit.
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Ireland pumped 20 billion euros ($26 billion) into Allied Irish to keep it afloat from 2009 onward, eventually acquiring 99.8 percent of its shares. The government values Allied Irish at 11.5 billion euros ($15.4 billion) and hopes to begin selling its stake next year.
Allied Irish reported a net profit of 411 million euros ($551 million) in the January-June period versus a loss of 758 million euros in the first half of 2013.