The board of stockbroker Davy has said that it has decided to pursue a sale of the group. 

"Rothschild & Co has been appointed as financial adviser to manage the process," it said in a statement last night.

Last week the Central Bank fined Davy €4.13m for breaching market rules in relation to a transaction involving the broker's own staff - the biggest fine of its kind ever levied on a broker in Ireland.

The transaction in question took place in November 2014.

A "consortium" of 16 Davy employees, including a group of senior executives, bought what are understood to have been unlisted corporate bonds from a client at an agreed price.

The client was not made aware that the consortium was made up of Davy employees.

Over the weekend, Davy said its chief executive Brian McKiernan had resigned from his position as CEO. 

The board of the company also accepted the resignations of Kyran McLaughlin from his position as a non-executive Director and of Barry Nangle from his executive role as Head of Bonds at Davy. 

On Monday, the National Treasury Management Agency decided to withdraw Davy's authority to act as a primary dealer for Irish Government bonds and the company said it was closing its bond desk with immediate effect. 

This led to the redundancies of four staff and Davy said the decision meant that none of the 16 people involved in the consortium were working for it any longer.

The company is also carrying out an internal review of matters arising from the Central Bank findings. 

An independent third party is to be appointed to conduct the probe, interim chief executive Bernard Byrne told the Oireachtas Finance committee in a letter earlier this week.

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A number of those who left Davy in the past week remain significant shareholders in the company.

The changing of the shareholding structure is therefore being seen as a key step to restoring trust in the business.

Earlier this week, the Irish Times reported that Bank of Ireland had made an exploratory approach to the embattled stockbroker at a high level about the possibility of buying it.

Both Davy and Bank of Ireland, in which the state has a 14% shareholding, have declined to comment on the report.

However, there is also likely to be significant interest from other domestic and international players in financial services.

Davy had previously been valued at around €400m prior to this controversy, but that figure is likely to have been reduced by the crisis.

A key issue for staff will be whether the group is sold in one piece, or broken up into different parts and sold to more than one buyer.

Rothschild and Co, who are to advise on the Davy sale, previously acted as advisors to the Department of Finance on the sale of some of its stake in AIB in 2017.

The Minister for Finance said that he is "supportive" of the announcement by the Davy board that it has decided to pursue a sale of the group.

In a statement, Paschal Donohoe said: "Davy is an important financial services firm employing approximately 700 people with a diverse range of institutional, retail, charity, credit union and corporate clients.

"It is important to have a stable, well managed, local stockbroking community to support indigenous companies. For this reason I am supportive of this evening's announcement."

Swiss bank Julius Baar has also been mentioned as a potential suitor for Davy, as have Cantor Fitzgerald and Brewin Dolphin.