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Ulster Bank continues to review options

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Jane Howard, Ulster Bank.     
Picture by Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic

Jane Howard, Ulster Bank. Picture by Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic

Jane Howard, Ulster Bank. Picture by Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic

Ulster Bank owner NatWest said it is continuing its strategic review of options for Ulster Bank which it said is being carried out “appropriately and responsibly".

The review could lead to Ulster Bank being shut down over time or sold, but in the meantime time NatWest said its current strategy to grow the Irish business “remains unchanged.”

NatWest reported better than expected third quarter earnings on Friday, after setting aside less than many analysts had forecast to deal with likely loan defaults due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The British bank posted a £355m pre-tax profit for the July-September period, when many analysts were predicting a loss.

The bank did make a further £254m provision for expected bad loans, provisions for the year would be at the lower end of a £3.5bn to £4.5n range previously guided by the bank itself.

Total income at Ulster Bank fell to €145m in the three months to September 30, down from €161m in the same period last year.

Ulster Bank made a profit of €1m over the three months, a fall on the profit of €34m in the corresponding period in 2019.

The fall in income was primarily due to lower lending income, reduced transaction volumes and fee income resulting from the impact of Covid-19, the bank said.

As at September 30, Ulster Bank in the Republic of Ireland had approved over 17,000 payment breaks and, of those who have rolled off their initial payment break, approximately 46pc have opted for a second payment break.

This represents around 8pc of the lending book by value.

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