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Ulster Bank losses hit €368m as chief delivers warning

ULSTER Bank reported extensive losses of £368m (€414m) for the last year.

In a week that was fraught with problems for Irish-based banks, with AIB shares dipping below the key €1 level for the first time in nine months, it was further bad news for Ulster Bank, which said its loan losses jumped from £106m (€120m) to £649m (€738m).

The bank said that more than half of its loan losses were taken in the final three months of last year.

And bank chief executive, Cormac McCarthy said that he anticipates more revelations in to the banking crisis over the next few months.

"I think that there's more to come," he said.

"Until NAMA is up and running, we won't have full clarity on where we stand."

The group has revealed that it will not take part in the Government 'bad bank' scheme.

But Mr McCarthy said the bank addressed significant pay and pension issues and over 1,000 people left the business under a voluntary severance package. And he confirmed the bank's commitment to Ireland.

"The losses were incurred largely in our corporate and retail portfolio," Mr McCarthy said. "We are very much a core part of the RBS group, we have 300 outlets across Ireland and we are very much imbedded in the community.

"We have set out our stall at the beginning of the year as to how we would develop the business," he added."We launched a €1bn programme to encourage loans to small and medium enterprises in the North and South, which has been very successful."

Loans to customers fell by 4pc, while customer deposits at the bank were down 5pc.

Ulster Bank's parent, part-nationalised British lender Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), listed a £3.6bn (€4bn) loss for 2009,

The bank, which is 84pc taxpayer owned, said this compared with a record £24.3bn (€27.6bn) shortfall in 2008.

RBS has faced criticism for its controversial £1.3bn (€1.4bn) reward plans for investment bankers. RBS said its remuneration pot would result in its paying a £208m (€236m) bonus tax to the British government.

Separately, Allied Irish Banks (AIB) is believed to be planning to raise hundreds of millions of euro of capital through a fresh debt restructuring deal, as the group prepares to unveil full-year bad-loan losses of €5.3bn next week.