Monday 17 December 2018

AIB to sell €1bn of business and buy-to-let loans

AIB is planning to sell a portfolio of bad loans with a face value of €1bn. Stock image
AIB is planning to sell a portfolio of bad loans with a face value of €1bn. Stock image
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

AIB is planning to sell a portfolio of bad loans with a face value of €1bn.

The portfolio will include buy-to-let and business loans, and is expected to be sold by the end of June 2019.

An AIB spokesperson said the bank's "key priority" was to agree restructuring deals with customers on a case-by-case basis but added that loan sales were part of its overall plan for reducing bad loans.

The spokesperson said the bank's non-performing exposures had gone from €31bn in 2013 to €7.2bn at September 2018, with around 90pc of this achieved by case-by-case work.

"We remain focused on reducing impaired loans to a level more in line with European norms and, where feasible, we will continue to implement sustainable solutions for customers who engage with the bank."

AIB is hunting for a new CEO after Bernard Byrne's surprise defection to Davy, where he will replace Kyran McLaughlin as head of capital markets and become deputy CEO to Brian McKiernan.

Banks here are under pressure from Europe to reduce the amount of bad loans on their books.

KBC is shortly due to complete the sale of €1.5bn of par-value loans, also including buy-to-lets and business loans, while Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank have also recently agreed loan sales.

Bank of Ireland has not ruled out loan sales going forward.

The sales are seen as politically toxic - particularly when the loans in portfolios are mortgages secured on family homes.

Fianna Fáil is currently looking to pass a bill designed to regulate so-called "vulture funds" who buy loan books, saying the funds should be brought within the "full suite of Central Bank regulation".

The Government has said it will support the bill.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michel McGrath said yesterday: "While I accept that pressure is being applied from the Single Supervisory Mechanism to reduce NPLs, it would be far better if the banks worked through the loan books in a proactive way and dealt with loans on an individual basis.

"When it comes to mortgages, last week's report from the Central Bank confirmed that unregulated 'vulture funds' offer a narrower suite of restructuring options to mortgage holders in arrears and any arrangement entered into is more likely to be short-term in nature.

"When our bill becomes law, these 'vulture funds' can be directly inspected and investigated by the Central Bank. The regulator will also, if necessary, be able to take enforcement action against these funds.

"Up until now, these funds have been untouchable. The Central Bank will now, for the first time, be able to have direct contact with these funds and apply strict regulation directly to them," Mr McGrath said.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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