Ulster Bank to begin phased withdrawal from Irish market

Friday, February 19
Peter Cosgrave

Ulster Bank is to end operations in Ireland but their withdrawal will take a number of years.

The bank has announced a phased withdrawal over the coming years that will be done in an "orderly and considered manner". 

The bank, which is owned by UK lender NatWest, has 1.1 million customers here, along with 2,800 staff in 88 branches around the country. 

"Ulster Bank will continue to communicate with customers throughout this process and remains open for business, new and existing through all business channels," the bank said.

The decision to withdraw from the Irish market was made by its UK based owner, Natwest.

The bank operates 88 branches in the Republic, 2,800 employees and over 1 million customers.

There are no plans to close Ulster Bank operations in Northern Ireland.

Ulster Bank's chief executive Officer Jane Howard said the bank will continue to offer a full banking service in our branches, online and through normal channels for existing and new customers for the foreseeable future.

"I want to be clear that there will be no change for customers today, changes will happen over the coming years," the CEO said.

As part of the phased withdrawal, AIB is in negotiations with Ulster Bank to buy €4 billion of performing commercial loans.

Ulster Bank also said it is in early discussions with Permanent TSB about its potential interest in buying certain retail operations and small and medium enterprise (SME) assets.

In a statement, Permanent TSB said that it has "ambitious plans" to grow its position in the retail and SME markets in Ireland and continue to be a force for competition. 

"In line with that ambition, the bank confirms that it is in early discussions with NatWest in relation to acquiring certain elements of the Ulster Bank businesses in the Republic of Ireland," it added.