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Ulster Bank prepares to sell off €1bn of 'non-core' property book

ULSTER Bank is putting €1bn of investment property loans on the market as it continues efforts to slim down its 'non-core' portfolio.

The latest sell-off was first reported by blog namawinelake yesterday morning, and comes weeks after Ulster reported impairments of £2.4bn (€2.9bn) on its non-core loans for 2011.

A spokesman for the bank yesterday declined to comment on the sale, but the Irish Independent understands that the information is accurate.

Four selling agents are understood to have been contacted about the €1bn loan sale and are expected to submit sale proposals today.

Royal Bank of Scotland's group-wide 'non-core' unit was holding £14.4bn of Ulster loans on its balance sheet at the end of last year, down from £15bn at the end of 2010.

The Ulster non-core piece includes £3.9bn of real estate investment loans, £8.5bn of real estate development loans and £1.6bn of 'other corporate'.

Real estate investment suffered the heaviest relative impairments last year, with its £609m hit equating to about 15pc of the total portfolio.

The level of the impairments taken so far suggests Ulster Bank is likely to be willing to sell on the loans at a discount, though this will depend on the quality of the exact loans included in the sale.

Ulster has insisted it remains committed to a long-term future in Ireland, even though its loans have been written down by close to £10bn since the crash.

Irish Independent