Ulster Bank Announces Closure of Republic of Ireland Business
Ulster Bank, the third-largest bank in Ireland, has announced it will be closing its operations in the Republic of Ireland. The announcement was made by its parent company, the NatWest Group, on Friday. The bank’s operations in Northern Ireland will continue.
The bank was founded in 1836 in Belfast and opened its first branch in Dublin in 1862. Since then, it has proudly served the people of the region. As of today, it employs over 2,500 people in the republic.
Impact on Northern Ireland
The MP for South Belfast, Claire Hanna, said the closure of Ulster Bank in the Republic of Ireland threatened about 600 jobs in Northern Ireland. These are the backroom staff who are required on a daily basis to work for the bank’s operations in the South. She vowed to protect workers who might be negatively affected by this development.
The CEO of NatWest Group, Alison Rose, said the removal of the bank’s operations will be carried out in phases. The process will take place over the course of the next few years and it will be ensured that both customers, as well as employees, are protected as much as possible.
Ulster bank has a total of 17.2 billion pounds in its loans portfolio that consists mostly of mortgages within the country. These loans will either be taken over by another bank, or managed by a loan service company on behalf of NatWest group. 3.4 billion pounds of these loans have already been sold to AIB.
While customers can expect normal services to continue uninterrupted for the foreseeable future, they may have to adjust later on once other deals have been finalized. Different elements of the bank will eventually be acquired by other firms sooner or later. Permanent TSB has already announced that it is in touch with the bank. Its aim is to continue providing services for Ulster Bank’s customers while strengthening its own market position.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe termed the announcement a ‘significant event’. He said it was a sad day, not just for the employees of the bank but also for the public. He was relieved with the way AIB and PTSB have started engaging with the NatWest Group to decide the future of a number of Ulster Bank operations including mortgage, accounts, small and medium enterprise, and retail and commercial loan books.
According to the minister, the positive interest shown by other banks will help consolidate their position. However, he cautioned that the bank’s departure could result in higher interest rates, something he urged the government to help the customers with in the future.