Business Irish

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Bank chiefs look at the options we have left

We've heard soundbites from politicians, economists and other commentators about how the domestic banks should be fixed. We've nationalised them, recapitalised them and got them to sell off all their good bits... It hasn't worked. But nobody has asked the bankers what they think should be done. The CEOs of two of our biggest banks -- ones that haven't been bailed out by the taxpayer -- tell Nick Webb how a battered domestic banking sector can be revived

Published 27/02/2011 | 05:00

ROYAL Bank of Scotland finance chief Bruce van Saun believes that competition in the Irish banking sector has "vapourised".

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The giant UK outfit, which owns Ulster Bank in Ireland, believes that its Irish operations can start to recover in the second half of 2011. "Ireland will be an attractive banking market over the medium term," he told the Financial Times last week.

The Irish banking sector got smaller last week as the process of winding down toxic lenders Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide began with the transfer of €12bn worth of deposits from the crippled banks to AIB and Irish Life & Permanent.

Along with the closure of Ulster's First Active, the exit of Bank of Scotland (Ireland) and its Halifax arm and the retrenchment of ACC Bank, consumers and businesses are facing an increasingly limited number of banking options.

This can be seen on the high street. The suburb of Terenure in south Dublin is a potent example of the shrinkage of the banking sector.

At the peak of the market, the village was served by seven banks or building societies including Ulster Bank, AIB, Bank of Ireland, Halifax, NIB, First Active and Irish Nationwide. Now there are just four branches left, with the future of Irish Nationwide looking grim.

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