Irish Credit Bureau's profits drop to €1.2m
Agency hit by collapse in new lending
PROFITS at the Irish Credit Bureau (ICB) slumped to €1.5m last year, as lending from banks continued to dry up.
The ICB is owned by the main Irish banks and keeps a database of borrowers' loans and loan repayment histories.
Each time a lender is preparing to make a new loan, the agency charges a fee for checking the borrower's credit history.
Profits are down from more than €5m in 2008.
It comes after plans to sell the bank-owed agency were shelved because of low-ball valuations.
The collapse in new lending means fee income for the bureau has nose-dived since the start of the recession.
According to the latest accounts filed with the Companies Office, turnover at the ICB fell to €4.9m last year, down from €6m in 2009. Turnover was €8.5m in 2008.
After-tax profits more than halved in the year to the end of last December, dropping to €1.2m from €2.9m according to the latest accounts.
The ongoing decline in profits, as well as in turnover, is a blow to managing director Seamus O Tighearnaigh.
Last year, he predicted profits would stabilise as a result of cost-cutting.
Plans by the banks that own the ICB to sell the company were shelved last year because of low-ball bidding as a result of the slowdown in the economy.
The sale process had been initiated in an effort by the banks to raise cash for themselves, and after Bank of Ireland agreed to sell its 17pc stake in ICB as part of a wider asset disposal scheme agreed with the European Commission.
Despite declining profits, the accounts show that directors' fees increased by more than 10pc to €676,000 last year.
Employee numbers were unchanged at 18 at the end of 2010, and the total cost of staff remained unchanged at €1.6m.