By Claire Ruckin and Tessa Walsh
LONDON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - State-backed Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), the former Anglo Irish Bank, is considering selling a loan portfolio of up to 2 billion euros ($2.58 billion) as part of its push to wind up its operations by 2020, banking sources said on Tuesday.
The move follows a series of portfolio sales by eurozone crisis-hit lenders looking to rid themselves of low-price loans after high funding costs made it too expensive to hold onto them.
IBRC's latest portfolio consists of around 2 billion euros of corporate loans, banking sources said.
UBS has been mandated to assess the quality of the loans, investors' appetite for them and the options available to IBRC if it opts to sell them.
The portfolio is likely to be split up before being sold off to end investors. UBS was chosen after a number of banks tendered in a public procurement process, bankers added.
The portfolio of debt could increase to include real estate loans, several bankers said.
IBRC and UBS declined to comment.
IBRC was formed in September 2011 after Anglo Irish Bank, which had been nationalised in January 2009, merged with Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) in July 2011 following a joint restructuring plan approved by the European Commission.
INBS had many residential mortgages which are now part of IBRC while most of Anglo Irish Bank's personal and corporate deposit accounts were transferred to the AIB Group.
IBRC's total assets at 30 June 2012 amounted to 53.2 billion euros, according to its website.
Since nationalisation, IBRC has been focused on asset recovery and the management and reduction of its loan books, predominantly in Ireland and the UK. It has already sold its Scottish loan book and is well advanced in the sale of its US loan book, according to the bank's website.
"We have focused our entire organisation on the orderly work-out of the Bank's loan books over time," IBRC said on its website. "Our goal is to achieve full resolution of the bank by 2020."
Portfolio sales have raised hundreds of billions of euros for cash-strapped lenders, starting with UK banks Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds in 2010, followed by Portuguese, Greek and Irish banks in early 2011, when high funding costs made it too expensive to hold low-priced loans.
Loan portfolio sales accelerated as the eurozone crisis intensified in August 2011. Spiraling funding costs and aggressive capital targets forced French banks to unload loans and Spanish banks have been the latest to get involved, with Santander's sale of up to 2.5 billion euros of loans to Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoAML).
UK and Irish banks have continued to sell down their debt. Lloyds alone managed to sell or work out around 23 billion pounds ($36.80 billion) of loans in the first half of 2012 and a total of 53 billion pounds in 2011.
Bank of Ireland mandated Deutsche Bank to sell a three-billion euro portfolio of assets in 2011 and earlier this year Allied Irish Bank sold a 300 million euro-equivalent portfolio of loans to BoAML.
AIB and Bank of Ireland are still in the market to sell more, bankers said.
($1=0.7711 euros) ($1 = 0.6251 British pounds)
(Reporting by Claire Ruckin; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)
Keywords: IBRC LOANS/