The Department of Finance has appointed Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Davy and Deutsche Bank as "Global Coordinators" to assist in a potential future Initial Public Offering of AIB.

They will be appointed for a period of 18 months, however, the department said it "does not signal any intention or obligation for the Minister for Finance to proceed with an IPO within any particular time frame".

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan described the appointment of the three firms as "an important step in preparations for the future sale of part of the State's shareholding in AIB".

He added there is no "fixed timetable" for any sale of AIB but the appointments mean the State has the option to sell some of its shareholding "during 2017 or indeed early 2018".

Rotschild is acting as financial advisor to the department on the sale, while AIB is being advised by Morgan Stanley and Goodbody.

The State currently owns 99% of AIB.

Before the general election, Mr Noonan had signalled his intention to float 25% of the bank's shares this year if he was reappointed to the Finance brief.

He later postponed that decision owing to market volatility.