Friday 25 May 2018

Ulster Bank targets greater share of Irish mortgage market - RBS chief executive

Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Ross McEwan
Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Ross McEwan

Donal O’Donovan

The Chief Executive of RBS says Ulster Bank is a “core franchise” for the UK taxpayer owned group, and is targeting a greater share of the Irish mortgage market, lower costs and a more capital efficient use of its legacy loan assets to drive growth at the Irish unit.

The group chief executive of RBS Ross McEwan made the comments in a presentation at a conference organized by Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London on Tuesday.

At the same event, he indicated he may fail in a plan to sell the bank’s Williams & Glyn unit, headed up by former Ulster Bank chief Jim Brown.

RBS was ordered to carve out and sell England and Wales focused Williams & Glyn to meet competition rules but has struggled to separate it from the main RBS brands.

The bank is “having to think about the what ifs,” in the event of being unable to secure a buyer for the unit by the end of 2016, the CEO said at the conference, admitting the bank will be “in uncharted territory if we don’t actually sell the assets” by the end of 2016.

Once seen as the “biggest headache” at RBS, its Irish unit is now regarded as a “core franchise” alongside the banking giant’s UK retail arms, Mr McEwen said.

The traditional split between Ulster Bank units in Northern Ireland and the Republic has been deepened over the past year. In the Republic, new Ulster Bank chief executive Gerry Mallon will “drive a strong and profitable franchise,” Mr McEwen said. 

Ulster Bank will  - continue cost reduction, increase mortgage market penetration (from the current 18pc market share), and increase capital efficiency of the bank’s legacy loan book, he said.

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