Sunday 20 October 2019

Ulster Bank profits double but RBS group comes under pressure

Ross McEwan
Ross McEwan
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Income at Ulster Bank in the Republic of Ireland remained "stable" at €166m during the first three months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

Ulster Bank made an operating profit of €23m during the period, more than double the profit made in the first three months of 2018.

Net loans to customers in Ireland increased by €100m compared with the last three months of 2018, primarily driven by growth in commercial loans.

Meanwhile, a net impairment release of €13m in the quarter reflected an improvement in the performance of the bank’s non-performing loan portfolio and an IFRS 9 change in accounting treatment for the recovery of interest in suspense.

However, profits at Ulster Bank owner, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), have fallen to £1bn (€1.12bn) in the three month period, from £1.2bn (€1.4bn) in the same period last year, as RBS was hit by stiffer competition in the British mortgage market and continuing uncertainty among UK businesses, with many reining in spending as Brexit fears linger.

The bank, still 62.4pc owned by the British taxpayer, saw bottom line profit fall 12.5pc to £707m (€818m) in the three months to March 31.

Outgoing chief executive Ross McEwan said: "This is a solid set of results set against a highly uncertain and competitive backdrop.

"We continue to support our customers through this Brexit uncertainty while investing and innovating in digital services to meet rapidly changing customer needs."

In October, RBS set aside £100m (€116m) to reflect the "more uncertain economic outlook" in Britain ahead of Brexit.

On Friday, the group said that while it is retaining its full year guidance, the "ongoing impact of Brexit uncertainty on the economy, and associated delay in business borrowing decisions, is likely to make income growth more challenging in the near term".

Yesterday RBS announced that Mr McEwan would leave his post within the next 12 months.

(Additional reporting PA)

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