Business Irish

Friday 23 February 2018

Noonan 'would leave money on the table' if he sold PTSB now - Masding

Jeremy Masding
Jeremy Masding
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Michael Noonan would be "leaving money on the table" if he sold off 75pc State-owned Permanent TSB now, according to the bank's chief executive, Jeremy Masding.

Mr Masding said if the Minister for Finance came to him looking to do a deal today he would advise against doing it.

"Let's spend the next 12-18 months on making this business as valuable as we possibly can, and if at that time Minister Noonan decides that he wants to do a transaction than so be it," he said.

"But up until then that is a distraction. A number of my team seem obsessed with it so we've had to have a "Come to Jesus" conversation", meaning he wants them to focus on the job at hand.

Mr Noonan recently told the Dáil that he could not discount "the possibility that a strategic transaction could arise opportunistically at any time involving PTSB which could be in the best interests of the State".

But speaking to reporters Mr Masding said the bank has a sustainable future as a stand-alone entity.

Yesterday the bank reported its first after-tax profit since 2007 - €80m in the first half.

"By our return to profitability I believe we've settled the argument about whether we can survive.

"Now we've got to prove that we can thrive and we can build a compelling, commercial and competitive business," Mr Masding said.

"There are some real opportunities that we remain focused on, for example the Government's plan to boost housing supply," he said.

"I think the forgiveness period is over now, I think the sympathy period of fixing and rebuilding the bank is over now, and my team now need to show you and our customers and our investors that we have the capacity to build out a commercial bank and that is the next challenge.

"I believe the brand is, give or take, well respected. I believe our customers are crying out for us to do good things on digital propositions, and if we do that, I believe this business on a relative basis can deliver returns that investors will be satisfied with."

Mr Masding said he was seeing applications, approvals and payouts for mortgages increase.

But he cautioned that Ireland "continues to be a challenging environment for a bank".

"Brexit's a setback, we've made a lot of progress on strengthening the risk culture of the group but we've still got a lot more to do in this area. Scale is still an issue," he added.

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