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Ulster can't use UK parent to dilute NPL ratio

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Ulster Bank must meet regulations in its own right, says CEO Jane Howard. Photo: Paul Sherwood Photography

Ulster Bank must meet regulations in its own right, says CEO Jane Howard. Photo: Paul Sherwood Photography

Ulster Bank must meet regulations in its own right, says CEO Jane Howard. Photo: Paul Sherwood Photography

Ulster Bank expects to bring its stock of NPLs (non-performing loans) below 5pc of all lending by the end of the year, in line with broad targets set out by Europe's single supervisory mechanism.

The Irish bank's status as a standalone subsidiary of UK parent Royal Bank of Scotland, rather than a branch, means it must meet European regulators' target in its own right, Ulster Bank CEO Jane Howard said.

That is in contrast to rival KBC Ireland, which said on Thursday its Irish arrears can be consolidated in the wider KBC Group, easing pressure to sell bad loans.

That pressure is on Ulster Bank, which has an NPL ratio of under 10pc, which will fall when €800m of bad loans announced in October are derecognised from the balance sheet this year following a sale to a combination of investor CarVal and loan manager Pepper.

The bad loan ratio will fall to 5pc by the end of this year without further loan sales, Ms Howard said, but she refused to rule out the possibility of future sales.

The country's third biggest lender reported a 13pc rise in new lending to €3bn.

Operating profit was €55m for 2019, the bank said. That was up from €15m in 2018 despite a drop in overall revenue, in part reflecting a sharp drop in costs and write-backs of €38m.

Meanwhile, Ulster parent RBS's new chief executive, Alison Rose, unveiled a new strategy on Friday, including renaming itself as NatWest.

Irish Independent