AIB's chief executive said the best way to return the bank to private ownership would be through a number of sales, not just one.

David Duffy said the bank would be ready to begin that process early next year.

The Government has said it would like to sell a portion of its 99% shareholding in the bank next year and is in discussions with AIB to reorganise its capital structure to prepare the bank for sale. 

"We think the most appropriate way to proceed is to make sure you attain the maximum price and to do a number of sales rather than one big bang.

"I have yet to determine with the Department of Finance whether or not that is going to be the plan," Mr Duffy told the Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Committee today.

Asked about personal insolvency proposals put to the bank, head of AIB’s financial solutions group Brendan O’Connor said they had voted in favour of 50 of the 57 proposals put to them.

He said that they had also offered alternatives in five of the seven proposals that they rejected.

Mr O’Connor was also asked about the bank’s claims that one in five of its arrears customers were doing so for strategic reasons.

He said these were cases were people had prioritised other payments before AIB’s but, while it was still an issue, the bank had had success in bringing people out of deep distress.

Mr Duffy added that the bank had focused all of its attention on getting people out of arrears rather than looking at why they were in that situation.