independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

KBC gets €125m injection from parent to expand operations here

KBC Bank Ireland chief executive John Reynolds

THE parent of KBC Bank Ireland has pumped €125m into the lender as it looks to expand its business here.

Filings with the companies' office show KBC's headquarters in Brussels injected the cash into KBC Bank Ireland plc on March 27.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, a company spokesman said the cash was being used to fund expansion and was not a shoring up of the business.

KBC is expanding its presence in Ireland and has opened two new retail offices in Dublin and Cork, with further new offices planned for Limerick and Galway.

"KBC invested a further €125m by way of share capital investment during the first quarter in KBC Ireland (KBCI) to support the ongoing development of KBCI's business in Ireland. KBCI's Tier 1 capital ratio at December 31 was in excess of 11pc," the spokesman said.

Market

The bank has been investing heavily in building awareness of its brand and has successfully entered the retail deposit market. The bank is also planning to launch a current account later this year, the spokesman added.

KBC was formerly IIB bank but the Belgian lender has held at least a majority stake in the business since 1978.

Last year KBC Ireland saw its loss widen to €306m from €269m a year earlier as loan impairment costs headed toward €550m.

KBC said that 2012 was a year of "continued, unacceptably high credit costs'' for the bank as those mortgage arrears in its residential loan book continued to increase, while "collateral values" in its commercial banking book were hit by the ongoing contraction in the Irish market.

The bank's overall loan portfolio fell to €16bn from €16.7bn in 2011 due to what it called "muted economic activity and limited new business demand", as well as the cost of increased loan repayments.

Speaking on their release in February, chief executive John Reynolds said the results reflected an "unsatisfactory business performance".

"We had signalled that we expected conditions to remain challenging in 2012 and this proved the case. However, we anticipate increasing economic stability will lead to more sustainable conditions in 2013, with the bank hoping for reduced credit cost in the year ahead,'' he added.

"KBC Group is a strong and profitable entity and is committed to developing its business in Ireland.

"We recognise the opportunity in Ireland's recovery and are positioning to play our part in that recovery, despite the challenges that remain as Ireland seeks to develop a more sustainable banking sector,'' he added.

KBC has about 10pc of the State's mortgage market and is now looking to increase its retail footprint significantly.

Irish Independent

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