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Bankinter enters Irish market through Avantcard acquisition

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Spanish bank Bankinter is to enter the Irish market following its acquisition of Avantcard.

The Madrid-headquartered financial institution is the first bank to enter the retail market in Ireland since the economic downturn.

"Bankinter’s strategic rationale is to grow its international exposure, with consumer finance its preferred route," Diarmaid Sheridan, analyst with Davy Stockbrokers, said.

"It could also potentially provide it with a route into the mortgage market in the longer term, given its existing agreement with An Post for consumer lending and An Post's intention to seek a partner to enter the mortgage market," Mr Sheridan added.

The news further shakes up the Irish banking market, after the Sunday Independent last week revealed that An Post is to enter the Irish mortgage market with a pledge that it will undercut current market rates by 1pc.

Bankinter employs over 5,000 people. The bank reported a gross operating income of €977m for the six months to 30 June this year.

Its net profit for the six month period was €261m, while its loan book stood at €54.7bn.

Meanwhile earlier this year it was announced that Avantcard had reached an agreement with Tesco Bank to acquire the UK retail giant's Irish credit card portfolio, subject to regulatory approval.

Based in Leitrim, Avantcard has been servicing customers in Ireland for over 20 years. Avantcard arrived in Ireland in 2012, when it bought the MBNA credit card business.

Last year, the consumer finance firm re-entered the Irish market with a fresh digital and customer-service-led approach in a bid to acquire new customers.

The company also has an office in Dublin and employs approximately 200 people in Ireland.

Bankinter was advised by McCann FitzGerald on the deal.

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