Monday 19 August 2019

KBC to enter 'micro' business bank market

KBC chief Wim Verbraeken
KBC chief Wim Verbraeken
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

KBC Ireland is planning to re-enter the business banking market for the first time since the crash, with products, including business loans, aimed at self-employed professionals.

The bank yesterday said it had set aside €54.4m to deal with the ongoing tracker mortgage scandal as it reported a fall in profits for the three months to the end of September.

Net profit after tax and impairment was €2.6m for the period, bringing profits for the year-to-date to €175.7m, up €57.6m on the nine months to September 2016.

The bank registered an operating loss of €22.8m before tax and impairment in the third quarter.

In more positive news for the bank, its stock of impaired loans reduced by 5pc to €4.9bn during the period. That includes €1.5bn of commercial loans, about 70pc of which is classed as non-performing.

New mortgage lending in the three months was €269m, up 71pc on the same period in 2016.

KBC Ireland CEO Wim Verbraeken said the new mortgage market this year is bigger than the lender expected, but noted that house price inflation could start to hit all banks next year as lending multiples under the Central Bank mortgage rules are strained by valuations.

"There has been sustained growth across KBC's business this year and we are very satisfied with the progress we are making. We are committed to bringing competition and value to the market with products and services that offer consumers a new way of banking - one that is digital first," Mr Verbraeken said.

The bank also announced plans to launch what it said will be tailored products and services to support professionals in what it called the "micro-business" sector.

That includes the likes of doctors, architects or accountants in their own practice who'll be able to do all of their business and personal banking with KBC.

That's a departure for KBC, where new banking has focused exclusively on the retail sector since the crash.

The bank's Belgian parent, KBC Group, yesterday reported a better-than-expected net profit in the third quarter.

Higher deposits and lending in Ireland, as well as Slovakia and Hungary, were among the positive trends reported.

Net profit, adjusted for one-off items rose 9.9pc in the third quarter to €691m - above analysts forecasts.

In Belgium, the company's main market, its insurance business profited from a low number of claims for its non-life business and €49m of provision releases, which added to the €26m of provision releases in Ireland in the quarter.

Irish Independent

Also in Business