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Further cuts at BOI after €950m losses

TAXPAYER-funded Bank of Ireland said it is determined to slash more costs as it recorded a €950m loss for the last year.

The bank, which is 36pc Government owned, improved its losses for the year after it embarked on a fire sale of a number of its investment arms.

The group said that since March 2008, Bank of Ireland has cut staff numbers by 2,200.

Chief executive Richie Boucher said he is confident the group can end its reliance on emergency ECB funding well before the end of 2013 deadline.

The cost-cutting measures helped to offset massive haemorrhaging from mortgage losses, Mr Boucher said.

But he did not signal that the bank would look at the idea of debt forgiveness, an idea which was mooted by AIB executive chairman David Hodgkinson earlier this week.

"We work with our customers as the basis of their own individual circumstances," Mr Boucher said.

"We also have a responsibility to everyone -- including the 96pc customers who are meeting their repayments."

The bank said the economic slump, which had a knock-on effect of high unemployment, less disposable income and falling house prices, impacted on the level of mortgage arrears.

Losses

Bank of Ireland's overall net loss narrowed by 66pc in 2010 as it made improvements in sales of bonds.

However, in the accounts released this morning, it was revealed that underlying losses amounted to €3.5bn, up from €2.96bn for the nine months to the end of December 2009.

Revenues for the year fell to €1.017bn from €1.056bn.

And Mr Boucher said the lender may hire Deutsche Bank AG, UBS AG and Credit Suisse AG to advise on the company's plans to raise €5.2bn of capital.

Mr Boucher said the group has now made a significant return for the taxpayer.

"I think we've moved from survival, we're certainly in a stabilisation phase," Mr Boucher said.

And he noted that although 4.17pc of residential mortgages across the bank were more than 90 days behind with repayments, which was an increase from 2.76pc a year earlier, the vast majority of owner-occupier mortgage holders were in time with their repayments.

Mr Boucher said that the bank signed up more new customers than they had last year.

"It's extremely important we win new customers, the support we receive from customers is vital," he said.

"This will make us Ireland's leading bank and a significant bank in the international markets, where appropriate."

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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