Ulster Bank profits boost on recovery and receding debt

Total income dips over first half of 2014 but profits up 140 per cent and recovery continues
Total income dips over first half of 2014 but profits up 140 per cent and recovery continues

Ulster Bank has reported an operating profit of £131 million for the first half of 2015, up from £5m in the same period last year.

CEO Jim Brown said the greatly improved performance was due to: “increased profit, reduced operating expenses and a continued trend of impairment releases driven by proactive debt management and the improving economic conditions”.

The good news story for the Ulster comes as parent company the RBS Group posted half-year losses of £153m (see page 53).

“Today’s results show continued progress and a strong capital and funding position for Ulster Bank as it supports the economic recovery across the island of Ireland,” said Mr Brown .

“Our focus on our ambition to become number one for customer service, trust and advocacy has seen a range of new services and product enhancements for business and personal customers.

“Our campaign for new and existing customers ‘A mortgage you can live with’ saw a 45 per cent increase in mortgage drawdowns compared to H1 2014.”

In addition, he said the bank had increased lending to SME and corporate customers by 57 per cent in the first half of the year and had £1.5bn to lend to business this year.

“We have recently launched new business propositions for companies operating in the agri, food and drink and international business sectors and our 2015 Business Achievers programme is well underway across the island of Ireland to recognise and encourage businesses of all sizes and sectors,” he said.

With an operating profit of £131m up from £55m in H1 2014, total income was £368m, down slightly from £412m for 2014.

Mr Brown added that the bank’s own ‘bad debt division’ - RCR (RBS Capital Resolution) - had effectively finished its job ahead of time.

“Since its establishment in 2014, net assets have reduced from £4.8bn to £1bn, as of 30 June 2015, with a further reduction of £0.5bn expected to complete in Q3 following the announcements earlier this month.

“We look forward to bringing further improvements to our customers, for example Apple Pay, through closer alignment in Northern Ireland with the rest of the Bank in the UK.

Ulster Bank will remain focussed on our customers and continue to enhance the service we provide to them.”