UPDATE 1-Fairfax launches sale of half of Bank of Ireland holding

Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:12pm EDT
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(Adds background on share purchase)

DUBLIN, March 30 (Reuters) - Canada's Fairfax Financial Holdings on Monday moved to sell half of its 5.8 percent stake in Bank of Ireland, cashing in on shares that have more than tripled in value since their purchase at the height of the euro zone crisis.

The Canadian property and casualty insurer run by contrarian investor Prem Watsa on Monday offered 935 million shares for sale via Deutsche Bank at an indicative price range of 35.75 to 37.25 euro cents per share, sources told IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication.

Bank of Ireland shares, which were trading at 10 euro cents when Fairfax bought in 2011, closed in London on Monday at 38.75 euro cents.

Fairfax was part of a consortium with U.S. billionaire Wilbur Ross that bought a 35 percent stake in Bank of Ireland months after Ireland signed up to an EU/IMF bailout in a deal that kept the bank out of state control.

Fairfax sold a third of its original 8.7 percent stake in March last year. At the time it promised to retain its final 5.8 percent stake for "the long term." (Reporting by Graham Fahy; writing by Conor Humphries; editing by David Clarke)