KBC Bank names new chief executive for Ireland

Wim Verbraeken

KBC Bank Ireland said that its chief executive of the past six years, Wim Verbraeken is returning to take up a senior job at the group’s head office in Brussels.

He will be succeeded next month by Peter Roebben, who is a senior general manager of group credit risk.

For the last two years, Mr Roebben has been responsible for all the credit risk across all of the group’s lending and insurance business.

Mr Verbraeken took over KBC at a time when the group’s commitment to its Irish bank was less than certain following the large losses the Irish operation chalked up, along with other banks, during the crash.

Following a long review, KBC Group subsequently gave its commitment to the Irish lender, as the Irish economy recovered and house prices roared back.

Its 2018 results published last month showed a writeback of provisions, mostly driven by house price increases, boosted net profits at the Irish bank to €162m.

Under Mr Verbraeken, KBC Ireland maintained its market share of the new mortgage market of over 10% and became known as a leading challenger offering among the lowest mortgage interest rates.

However, leading mortgage broker Michael Dowling said that there was “no doubt” that cash-back mortgages offered by some rivals have held back KBC, which competes on price alone.

Cash-back mortgages have long been criticised by consumer and mortgage advocates as offering poor long-term value for borrowers.

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