Bank of Ireland approves €1.2bn in new credit for SMEs
Bank of Ireland approved €1.24bn in new credit, excluding restructured loans, to small and medium-sized businesses during the first quarter of the year. That's 24pc more than in the first quarter of 2014.
It said there was a 12pc increase in new credit applications in the first three months of the year, with sectors including agriculture, property and retail showing strong signs of growth.
Mark Cunningham, Bank of Ireland's director of business banking, said that the positive growth trajectory the institution saw in the second half of 2014 has continued.
"Increased levels of activity in the agri sector have been primarily driven by land purchase and farm development as farming customers respond to the growth opportunity afforded by the abolition of milk quotas," he said. "Land purchase activity has increased."
He added that the pick-up in activity in the property sector has continued.
"There has also been an increase in the volume of investment in secondary markets as investors move out the risk curve," Mr Cunningham said.
"The demand for finance in 2015 is primarily expected to come from refinancing opportunities where equity funds are recycling loan portfolios that they have acquired."
Last week, the Irish Independent revealed that former Bank of Scotland (Ireland) boss Mark Duffy is close to finalising a €350m fundraising for a new lending venture called LoanBox.
The new firm will assist Irish borrowers in financing the purchase of their loans from private equity, and also enable performing borrowers to secure loans to expand businesses.