Irish lenders unlikely to need more capital -cenbank governor

DUBLIN, March 10 Mon Mar 10, 2014 4:32pm EDT

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DUBLIN, March 10 (Reuters) - Ireland's central bank governor believes it is unlikely the country's banks will need more capital following stress tests later this year, adding to growing confidence in Dublin that lenders will pass the tests.

Ireland had to pump more than 60 billion euros - equivalent to about 40 percent of annual economic output - into its banks on the back of national stress tests in 2010 and 2011 in a banking crisis that pushed it into an international bailout.

"I'm not expecting anything but I'm not ruling it out because we don't know the scale of the stress test," Patrick Honohan, who is also a member of the governing council of the European Central Bank, the authority overseeing the stress tests, told reporters on Monday.

"You can always design a stress test that causes banks to need more capital, you can just turn up the notch and that hasn't been decided yet."

Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks, two of the three domestically-owned banks who will be put through the stress tests, said last week that they believed they had sufficient capital to navigate the tests.

Ireland's finance minister told Reuters last month that the government did not envisage the banks needing further capital, noting that a rebound in property prices following a devastating crash should help their balance sheets.

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