Ulster Bank to begin phased withdrawal from Ireland

NatWest Group plc (NWG) has today (Friday, February 19) confirmed a “phased withdrawal” of Ulster Bank from the Republic of Ireland.

In a statement to AgriLand it said that following careful and comprehensive deliberation by the NWG board, it concluded that “despite the significant progress that has been made in recent years, Ulster Bank in the Republic of Ireland will not be in a position to achieve an acceptable level of sustainable returns over its planning horizon”.

As a result, NWG intends to begin a phased withdrawal of Ulster Bank from the Republic of Ireland over the coming years.

Ulster Bank Ltd.’s banking business in Northern Ireland is unaffected.

Stakeholders

The NWG board said it has given “careful consideration” to the impact of this decision on all stakeholders.

In the short-term, it is expected that there will be minimal change for Ulster Bank customers.

NWG said it will seek to implement a solution, or set of solutions, to ensure that:

  • Customers and colleagues are well supported;
  • There is continued servicing of retail and SME clients;
  • Job losses are minimised;
  • Stability is maintained in the sector;
  • NWG’s withdrawal from the Irish banking sector is achieved in an orderly manner.

Commercial loan book

As part of the phased withdrawal, agreement has been reached that Allied Irish Banks plc. may purchase approximately €4 billion of performing commercial loans and the transfer of the colleagues wholly or mainly assigned to this loan book.

The potential sale remains subject to due diligence, further negotiation and agreement of final terms, as well as obtaining regulatory and other approvals.

NWG is also in early discussions with Permanent TSB Group Holdings plc., among other banking parties, about their potential interest in buying certain retail and SME assets, liabilities and operations.

NatWest Group CEO Alison Rose said: “In recent years, our strategy for Ulster Bank in the Republic of Ireland has been to improve returns by growing the business, reducing costs and resolving legacy issues.

Our priority over the coming months will remain on supporting our customers, communities and colleagues through these difficult times.

“Following an extensive review and despite the progress that has been made, it has become clear Ulster Bank will not be able to generate sustainable long-term returns for our shareholders,” she added.

“As a result, we are to begin a phased withdrawal from the Republic of Ireland over the coming years which will be undertaken with careful consideration of the impact on customers and our colleagues.”

It’s thought that tens of thousands of farmers have loans or current accounts with Ulster Bank in Ireland.