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Archive for November, 2014

AIB lays blame on markets as it stalls bond sale

AIB put a planned bond deal on hold yesterday, blaming a deterioration in the markets after the plan to issue the new 10-year mortgage-backed debt was announced less than 24 hours earlier.

Investors and traders had been waiting for the deal – expected to be up to €1bn in size – to price yesterday.

The decision to stall the process left some market watchers scratching their heads. “I’m not aware of a decline in market conditions, but there could be a technical issue or a pricing hitch,” said Gary Jenkins, a bond market analysts at LNG Capital in London.

The cost of borrowing for the Government fell to an all-time low yesterday, and is usually a guide to general market conditions.

The European Central Bank (ECB) had also been expected to snap up a big chunk of the new AIB covered bonds as part of its latest asset-buying programme, which should have helped AIB’s deal.

The ECB started buying up European mortgage-backed securities last month as part of its stated aim to boost its balance sheet in an effort to revive Europe’s flatlining economy.

The ECB will still be expected to come in as a buyer when the AIB bond is relaunched, which could be as soon as tomorrow.

Markets are generally quiet on the US Thanksgiving holiday, which falls today.

“AIB Mortgage Bank yesterday announced that it had mandated banks to investigate the opportunity to issue in ACS format in the near future. The market tone in the last 24 hours has deteriorated, as evidenced by the postponement of a number of new issues in the financial institutions arena. As a consequence, AIB will continue to monitor the market for suitable windows,” the bank said in a statement issued to the Irish Independent.

Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Natixis as well as Davy and Merrion Capital have been hired to manage the bond issuance for the bank.

The decision to stall AIB’s bond will heighten fears that the ECB’s aggressive bond buying of recent weeks, which included more than €7bn of mortgage-backed covered bonds, is distorting what was an orderly market.

The influential ‘International Financing Review’, a banking publication, said the ECB action is “turfing out real money investors from the market, storing up the risk of disenfranchising them and pushing them to look elsewhere”. The fear is that commercial investors are being pushed aside by the ECB which does not need to make a financial return on its investments.

Indo Business

Bank culture ‘will take generation to change’, says report

A “toxic” and “aggressive” culture inside British banks that led to scandals such as mis-selling will take a generation to change, a report says.

A culture that was decades in the making will take years to unwind, the joint study by Cass Business School and think tank New City Agenda concludes.

It estimates that poor standards have cost the UK industry £38.5bn in fines and customer redress over 15 years.

The banking industry said it was “striving hard” to rebuild trust.

The report found that at least £27bn of the £38.5bn in fines was due to mis-selling of personal protection insurance (PPI).

In the six years between 2008 and 2014, banks received 21 million complaints, it said.

Over two decades “an aggressive sales culture took hold in retail banking,” with staff in some branches receiving cash bonuses, iPods, or tickets to Wimbledon for hitting sales targets, it said.

Those that failed to hit targets “were humiliated by having cabbages and other vegetables placed on their desks,” it added.

Long journey
“A toxic culture which was decades in the making will take a generation to turn around,” said Conservative MP and New City Agenda co-founder David Davis.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who sits on the New City Agenda advisory board, said: “It is clear that much more needs to be done by all stakeholders for trust to be restored in our financial institutions.”

The archbishop said that “huge fines” levied on banks in November in connection with attempted foreign exchange rate manipulation “illustrate the length of the journey of culture change that still needs to be travelled”.

Many banks have culture change programmes underway, the report added.

The report’s main author, Professor Andre Spicer, of the Cass Business School, said that some progress had been made in changing “a toxic sales culture”.

“Regulation has improved, and big banks have all implemented new programmes to improve their cultures,” he said.

“Smaller banks and challenger banks are beginning to offer the customer real choice, and often have healthier cultures.”

“Many culture-change initiatives are fragile, and their success is not ensured. It’s clear to us that much work still needs to be done,” he added.

‘Public trust’
The British Bankers’ Association (BBA) said that banks had made some progress in rebuilding public trust.

“There has been some important headway, with a new regulatory system, important reforms to pay and measures to ensure the British taxpayer will not have to shore up struggling banks in the future,” a BBA spokesman said.

“It’s very important that public confidence in this vital part of our economy returns, but that takes time and there is still more to be done,” the BBA added.

There have been numerous calls for a change in banking culture since the 2008 financial crisis exposed wrong-doing and misdemeanours.

Last month, Bank of England governor Mark Carney said that some top bank executives had “got away without sanction” and were “still at the best golf courses”.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30190753

RBS struggles against never-ending fines

The Royal Bank of Scotland is in the process of looking for a new chairman. Whoever it is will need a strong stomach.

Thursday’s £56m fine from the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England over the spectacular 2012 computer blow-up is the latest in a series of punishments for failure and misconduct stretching back years.

The bank has paid out billions of pounds in fines and compensation payments for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance, the manipulation of the inter-bank lending rate, the mis-selling of interest rate products to small businesses and the manipulation of the foreign exchange market.

Looking ahead, there are still large hurdles to clamber over. RBS is facing fines over its involvement in American mortgage products which were at the heart of the US financial crisis.

There are also likely to be more fines connected to forex problems for a number of banks, including RBS. The US Department of Justice is still to adjudicate on the matter, probably in the New Year.

A banking chief executive from another bank told me that if we thought the billions of pounds in foreign exchange fines we saw last week were large, just wait until we see what the DoJ decides to do.

“It will put last week into the shade,” I was told.

Long tail of failure
Beyond forex, RBS is also facing legal action over its attempts to raise £12bn of capital to save itself during the 2008 financial crisis.

If all those issues are dealt with before the end of 2015, many within the bank will be surprised. The long tail of failure and misconduct is now one of the most serious facing the bank’s reputation.

Ross McEwan, the chief executive of RBS, has said that the culture is changing and that bad behaviour is simply unacceptable.

But as the computer failure shows, saying something at the top of organisation does not necessarily translate into action at the front line.

The FCA said that the IT problems revealed “failures at many levels within the RBS Group to identify and manage risks”.

Decades in underinvestment in “dull” technology led to the mess of 2012. Mr McEwan knows that banking is an essential service, dealing at its most basic in looking after people’s money.

It failed in that duty.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30127970

Japan’s economy makes surprise fall into recession

Japan’s economy unexpectedly shrank for the second consecutive quarter, leaving the world’s third largest economy in technical recession.

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell at an annualised 1.6% from July to September, compared with forecasts of a 2.1% rise.

That followed a revised 7.3% contraction in the second quarter, which was the biggest fall since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Economists said the weak economic data could delay a sales tax rise.

Sales tax delay

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is widely expected to call a snap election to seek a mandate to delay an increase in the sales tax to 10%, scheduled for 2015.

The tax increase was legislated by the previous government in 2012 to curb Japan’s huge public debt, which is the highest among developed nations.

April saw the first phase of the sales tax increase, from 5% to 8%, which hit growth in the second quarter and still appears to be having an impact on the economy.

The economy shrank 0.4% in the third quarter from the quarter previous.

The data also showed that growth in private consumption, which accounts for about 60% of the economy, was much weaker than expected.

he next tax rise had already been put in question by already weak economic indicators.

“The Japanese economy is in recession and has now contracted in three of the last four quarters,” said Glenn Levine, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics.

“The most likely course is now a snap election in December in which voters choose, naturally enough, to delay the tax increase.”

Election expected

Speculation had been growing that the Japanese prime minister would call an election next month to gain support just two years after his election.

Local media are now reporting that Mr Abe could announce the next election as early as Tuesday to be held on 14 December.

he Japanese government’s chief spokesperson Yoshihide Suga said on Monday that Mr Abe was expected to decide on various steps to take amid the “severe economic situation”.

While Mr Abe’s popularity has fallen since he took office in 2012, he is expected to win if an election were called, because the opposition remains divided.

In reaction to the negative economic data, the dollar went above 117 Japanese yen before settling back at 115.69.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, meanwhile, closed down almost 3% to 16,973.80, marking its biggest one-day drop since August.

Analysis: Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC Tokyo Correspondent

Where did Abenomics go wrong?

In the spring of 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched an ambitious growth strategy that rapidly became known as Abenomics.

Its aim was to drag Japan’s economy out of 20 years of deflation and put it back on the road to growth. Billions of dollars were pumped into the economy through stimulus spending. The Bank of Japan went on an even bigger spree, printing hundreds of billions of dollars of new money and using it to buy government bonds.

This had two effects. First, it pushed down the value of the yen, which made Japanese exports cheaper. Second, it pushed investors out of bonds and in to stocks. The Tokyo stock market soared. By mid-2013 Japan’s economy was back in what looked like solid growth.

Then, in early 2014, Mr Abe’s government took a calculated gamble. With the economy growing he could risk putting up taxes for the first time in nearly 20 years. Consumption (purchase) tax would rise from 5 to 8%. The tax rise was urgently needed to plug the giant hole in Japan’s public finances.

But the gamble has not paid off. Japanese consumers have stopped spending and the economy is back in recession. Why? The fall in the yen gave a huge cash windfall to Japanese exporters. But instead of increasing the wages of their employees, they have sat on the money.

The huge stock market rise only benefited a minority of rich people. 80% of Japanese people do not own any shares. Instead, their incomes are stagnant or falling, and the tax rise has made them feel even poorer. Hence they have stopped spending.

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Global economy warning lights are flashing, says PM

“Red warning lights” are once again flashing over the state of the global economy, the prime minister has said.

Speaking after the G20 meeting of world leaders, David Cameron said a “dangerous backdrop of instability” threatened Britain’s recovery, and “we should stick to our long-term plan”.

In a Guardian article, he warned of the impact from conflicts, low growth and a eurozone “on the brink” of recession.

Labour said Britain’s economic recovery was still not being felt at home.

But writing in the newspaper, Mr Cameron said “red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy” – six years on from the crash that “brought the world to its knees”.

He said: “The eurozone is teetering on the brink of a possible third recession, with high unemployment, falling growth and the real risk of falling prices too.

“Emerging markets, which were the driver of growth in the early stages of the recovery, are now slowing down.”

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Analysis

BBC News political editor Nick Robinson

David Cameron calls it “pitch rolling” – preparing the ground for a big match.

The prime minister has just got his heaviest roller out to prepare for not one but two huge political matches – Thursday’s Rochester by-election and the Autumn Statement in less than three weeks time…

The prime minister is getting his excuses in early.

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And he said the Ebola epidemic, conflict in the Middle East and Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine were all adding to a “dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty”.

The warning comes after Mr Cameron pushed for a free trade deal between the European Union and the US at the G20 summit of world leaders in Australia.

The prime minister will make a statement to Parliament at 15:30 GMT about the summit and the state of the global economy.

Official figures released on Friday showed that Italy returned to recession after its economy contracted 0.1% in the third quarter – the 13th quarter in a row that it has failed to grow.

And the German economy narrowly avoided falling into recession with growth of 0.1% in the third quarter.

By contrast, the Bank of England has forecast that the UK economy will grow by 3.5% in 2014, remaining resilient in the face of the “subdued world demand”.

But in its latest update last week, it also warned that there were risks from the global economic situation and it revised down its forecasts for UK output next year.

‘Global downturn’

Mr Cameron stressed that while the British economy was the fastest-growing in the G7, the reality of an interconnected world meant it would not be possible to “insulate ourselves completely”.

“We must do all we can to protect ourselves from a global downturn,” he added.

Looking ahead to the 2015 general election, he argued it was more important than ever for the UK to stick to the government’s austerity plan, which he said had seen the nation “prosper”.

His comments come three weeks before Chancellor George Osborne delivers his Autumn Statement – the last before May’s general election.

The BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said the chancellor’s update on the state of the UK economy was likely to be an “austere” one with no pre-election giveaways.

‘Lots of excuses’

The deficit was rising, Norman Smith added, and the chancellor was going to find it difficult to bring it down again at the pace he wanted.

Figures published last week suggested that average earnings were now rising faster than prices for the first time in five years.

But Labour said most people did not feel an improvement in their living standards, citing comments made by former Prime Minister John Major, who told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that people were “concerned and worried” that the economic recovery had not resulted in higher wages.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves said the government should be doing more to “secure the recovery”, including by increasing the minimum wage.

“Instead of making lots of excuses, David Cameron should be doing more to ensure working families start feeling the benefit of wage rises,” she told Sky News.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30075810

The property bubble won’t ‘burst’, because there isn’t one says Dan O’Brien

THE Irish economy is not out of the woods. There are quite a number of things that could yet go seriously wrong, including in the banks and with the public finances. Even the recovery itself could falter.

If you want to worry, fret about these matters. There is much less to fear from property prices.

Developments in Dublin over the past 18 months in particular have led to talk of a bubble. While property prices could fall again if there was another recession or a big external shock, they are not going to fall because of the bursting of another bubble — for the simple reason that there is no bubble.

Many people react strongly to anyone who says that the recent uptick in house prices in the capital is not a bubble. This is understandable. The effects of the property and construction crash have so traumatised the nation that we have gone from being blase about the risks of property price increases in the pre-2007 period, to being paranoid about them now.

Assessing the extent to which property prices reflect the underlying fundamentals is not an exact science, but there are a whole series of metrics which should be watched and, when taken together, give a very good indication of the sustainability of price rises. When these metrics begin to get out of line with historical or international norms, it is time to start worrying. Currently, none of the warning lights are flashing.

After a price overshoot, there is usually an undershoot The very definition of an asset price bubble is that prices overshoot the level that all supply and demand factors suggest they should be at. When a bubble bursts, the process goes into reverse. Then, prices tend to undershoot for a variety of reasons, including the drying up of credit and the postponing of purchases by buyers in order to avoid immediate capital loss.

Dublin prices rose faster than prices outside the capital during the bubble. Since the crash they have fallen further. With prices in the capital in March of this year (the latest figures available) still exactly half what they were at the peak in February 2007, despite the rises since 2012, there is no sign of a bubble. The uptick over the past 18 months is much more about a correction of the post-crash undershoot.

Bubbles can’t inflate without excessive credit

The growth in mortgage lending was extraordinary from 2002 until 2008. This was the central factor in inflating the bubble, as excessive credit expansion is in blowing up bubbles of most kinds.

But since the crash, that has all gone into reverse, and bank loans has been very hard to come by. The aggregate amount of mortgage lending by banks in the Irish market has been falling since 2008. And this credit crunch shows little sign of easing, according to any available data. Just last week the latest Central Bank figures on the banks’ combined mortgage lending showed that the downward trend continued up to March. This is entirely inconsistent with a bubble.

Prices to average incomes are now below the long run average

Up to 2007, property prices rose much more rapidly than incomes. This is usually a sign that something is awry. It was certainly the case in Ireland when, according to data in The Economist*, Ireland’s average property price-to-income ratio in 2008 was further out of line with its historical norm than any other country in-|cluded in |its database.

Since the crash, things have gone sharply into reverse. The huge decline in prices has far out-stripped falls in income. The price-to-income ratio is now below its long run average and among the lowest of the countries covered in The Economist’s database.

High property price inflation is  not necessarily proof of a bubble

In the years 2000 to 2008, property prices in Ireland rose very sharply. But the increase was not exceptional, as the second chart shows. Many countries saw large increases.

Ireland is unusual in the scale of its crash, with real property prices now back at 1999 levels. Of the developed economies, only Japan has experienced a bigger decline over the same period.

Big increases in property prices do not automatically end in a crash. Britain, France and Sweden actually experienced sharper real-term increases than Ireland from 2000 and none has experienced a crash.

Why was Ireland different? Along with the unusually large increase in mortgage debt over the time, Ireland was an extreme outlier in the extent to which the supply of new housing increased. The annual output of new homes reached four times the long run average by 2006. This should have contained price increases (but it didn’t because there was so much excessive credit). When the crunch came, the underlying supply and demand factors moved closer into alignment and the market crashed.

This huge oversupply is still at play in many rural areas, and prices are very unlikely to rise by much, even over the long term. In urban areas, however, things are different. Less new supply came on stream up to 2007 (owing to space constraints) and, with so little new building over the past half decade and many people holding off on selling in the hope of getting a higher price in the future, the Dublin market is seriously undersupplied.

Figures contained in the latest report from property website Daft.ie show how tight supply is in the capital. In Dublin 10,000 homes are coming on the market annually, which represents just one in 50 properties. This is well below the norm in a well-functioning market.

All these facts and figures do not convince everyone that the recent increases in Dublin prices will not end up being reversed in another crash. In many conversations I have had on the matter people rightly point out that many supposed experts said there was no bubble even as late as 2008. Almost invariably, they ask if I was one of those bubble deniers. This is entirely fair, because anyone who dismissed the risks then has no credibility to speak on the subject now.

I didn’t live in Ireland for any of the boom and bubble years and didn’t comment much on property matters. While I will very candidly admit that I never thought the downturn would be as deep as it turned out to be, I hope readers might forgive me the vulgarity of citing what I did say on property.

Just over eight years ago — on April 12, 2006 — on an RTE Prime Time show about the property market, I said this. “Debt levels have reached levels where the warning lights are flashing urgently… taking on further debt at a time when there are big risks is something people need to be very careful about.”

On the risks of buying a property at that time, I said, “Make sure your income is recession-proof and that you are happy to stay in the home for five or 10 years.”

*https://www.economist.com/free-exchange/2011/11/24/clicks-and-mortar

http://www.independent.ie/business/personal-finance/property-mortgages/the-property-bubble-wont-burst-because-there-isnt-one-30241835.html

SMEs at… risk from vulture funds, warns Musgrave’s…independent.ie

One of the country’s biggest wholesale and retail groups has warned that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) must be protected when banks sell on loans to international funds.

Changes are “urgently needed”, according to Musgrave Group, which operates the SuperValu and Centra chains, often in partnership with independent franchise owners.

Those independent retailers are being encouraged to refinance away from banks, leaving them vulnerable to price hikes or enforcement when US funds take over their debt, the company said. It felt that lenders are pushing customers away because they are focused on debt recovery, or leaving the country.

The Musgrave Group’s 900 retail partners employ over 30,000 people. It wants funds that buy SME loans to be regulated, and for ownership of such debt to require Central Bank authorisation, “to protect consumers, including SMEs”.

It set out the case for regulation in a submission to the Department of Finance, which launched a public consultation process on the issue of loan portfolio sales in August.

Musgrave said its Retail Finance team, which works with independent retailers and their accountants and solicitors, has witnesses a rise in cases where firms have been asked to finance away from their own bank over the past 18 months. The submission was one of a number, including from advocacy groups, businesses and politicians made to the department.

In its submission Ulster Bank warned against the potential impact of legislation, saying that US funds that have actively been buying up portfolios of loans here will move elsewhere if regulation is too strict.

“The importance of a functioning market place for the sale of distressed assets and debt as part of the overall recovery of the Irish economy should not be overestimated,” the bank said.

Currently, when loans are sold by the main banks or Nama, which are regulated, to buyers including so-called vulture funds, the purchaser is not bound by rules that had applied to the seller. These include the Central Bank Code of Conduct of Mortgage Arrears and the Code of Conduct for business lending to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.

http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/smes-at-risk-from-vulture-funds-warns-musgraves-30730551.html

On death, taxes and property crashes…- Source- Independent.ie

Property prices in Ireland are due to fall again. It might not happen tomorrow or next year or even in five years (or it might) but it will happen.

A downturn will happen simply because it always does. The property cycle is organic. It works in never-ending circles and it always will – falling prices followed by rising prices with periods of stasis in between, every five to 12 years usually and it’s as inevitable as death and taxes.

Not only here in Ireland but everywhere else too, as a glance at the analysis of five world markets on Page 7 this week highlights. History shows the undulating property cycle has been running since the first homosapiens fought with moose bones over the cave with that sought-after stunning view.

You can tinker with the cycle and you can slow it and speed it up, but ultimately you can’t prevent the inevitable upturns and downturns. Because to be able to do so means having complete control over all the variables that influence it – employment, supply, credit, consumer sentiment, demographics, immigration, planning restriction – there are too many to count.

So why do a good many of us seem to expect otherwise? Why do we expect an entitlement to a market in which values gradually ratchet up forever in nice manageable little single digit jumps?

The sort of group expectation that a market shouldn’t fluctuate doesn’t seem to carry in any other sector. Public opinion doesn’t go jabberwocky when the stock market slides. They don’t blame the media that reports a downturn in equities as it rolls out for ‘talking down the market’. Neither do they blame the same media which covers the following upturn in stocks for talking the situation up.

So why do we keep looking for people to blame when the property market rises or falls? Through the boom years ‘group think’ wisdom widely conferred that anyone who stated property values could do anything other than keep rising was a heretic, because “it’s different this time”. We’re currently hearing that sort of guff in Australia – a country currently inflating one of the world’s biggest property bubbles.

Meanwhile, commentators who predicted each and every year from 1999 to 2007 that it would “all end in tears” are today held in reverence as all-knowing soothsayers. This is a bit like predicting in summertime that Christmas will come. Time itself is a cycle but even a banjaxed clock is correct twice a day. And to predict a property price downturn – I am doing that today (remember I was first) – is simply to predict the inevitable.But today people are running around pointing to those who pay increasing prices for properties and calling it “the return of the madness! Have we not learned anything?” they wail. They are objecting to measures to enable house building because they assert this as another facet of the “return to the madness”.

Prices are picking up after a 50pc wipeout. The real “madness” was more about Government and bank actions which postponed the inevitable by sticking a big oar into the natural cycle and by priming a heated market further. These actions which delayed the natural downturn – a fall in prices was coming in any case – simply increased the force and speed of the descent when it did come about.

Oars that jammed into that cycle included continuing Section 23 relief and easing stamp duty for buyers at the top end of the cycle. We’re now accentuating a natural upturn by artificially restricting home construction and clogging the supply pipeline. They’ve been sticking their oars into the cycle for years in the UK where the current London property bubble has resulted from a postponement of the full effects of the 2008 crash through vast amounts of quantitative easing and applying incentive to home buying. Sound familiar?

We are emotional about property prices because unlike stocks and shares, all of us need a home and the price of property and rental affects us all. However, that doesn’t change the fact that housing in a capitalist-oriented economy is a commercial commodity like gold, grain or cattle fodder, which loses and gains value constantly.

The best way to handle the property cycle is to accept it. To make judgements based on what you know – to buy, to sell, when and at what price – to make judgements on your level of risk (as you would a pension – high, medium or low) and then to accept the consequences of your own decision-making in the undulation of the never-ending cycle. The smart ones factor in a crash into their odds, or they accept when they gamble at high-risk levels and lose. The stupid ones look for someone to blame when they bet the farm on a two bedroom apartment in D4 and lose it.

It’s exactly like the stock market and a lot like betting at a racetrack. You decide how much you can spend, how much you want to spend, how much risk you want to apply. Then you make your bet and you take your chances. You bet big, then you can lose big. Bet small and you won’t win big.

Buying a property is a gamble. It always was and always will be. You win and lose in cycles and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Indo Property

Ulster Bank to remain under control of RBS- Source BBC News

RBS will retain control of Ulster Bank and said it has a good market position that can deliver attractive returns.

RBS had been carrying out a review that could have seen the Ulster Bank business in the Republic of Ireland sold off.

Ross McEwan, RBS chief executive, said: “We have confirmed today that Ulster Bank remains a core part of our bank.”

Ulster Bank is the largest bank in Northern Ireland and the third biggest in the Republic of Ireland.

Ulster Bank reported an operating profit of £394m in the third quarter of 2014.

That is compared to a £58m profit in the previous quarter.

That performance was heavily influenced by an improving property market, particularly in Dublin.

It allowed the bank to “write back” £318m of impairment charges.

‘Signal’

That means money that had been set aside to cover expected bad loans can now be released.

The bank had an underlying quarterly profit of £64m before the write backs are included.

Ulster Bank chief executive Jim Brown said this was the third profitable quarter in a row and “a clear signal that our strategy is working”.

“We will continue with our dual strategy of building a challenger bank in the Republic of Ireland and strengthen our market leading position in Northern Ireland as we progress closer alignment with RBS in Great Britain.”

He told BBC’s Good Morning Ulster that the news confirmed that Ulster Bank is “core to RBS”.

“I think there are several reasons for that,” he added. “We have a very good market position right across the island of Ireland, we’re a good strategic fit with the rest of the RBS group and the business sees great opportunities in the market as well.”

The bank’s biggest problems in recent years have been in the Dublin-based part of the business.

At one stage, it appeared as though RBS was planning to sell that part of the business or merge it with another lender.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-29845045

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