Spanish bank coy on Irish mortgage market move

Spanish bank coy on Irish mortgage market move

Geoff Percival

Spain’s Bankinter has refused to give any indication over whether it intends to enter the Irish mortgage market, as has been speculated. The banking group has become the first overseas entrant to Ireland’s retail banking market since the economic crisis through its acquisition of Spanish counterpart EVO Banco, for an undisclosed sum.

The deal gives Bankinter full ownership of the Irish-based consumer finance business Avantcard.

Spanish bank coy on Irish mortgage market move

Bankinter is on a drive to expand its consumer finance business internationally and Ireland will be its first market outside Spain and Portugal. It said it will use Avantcard to expand in the digital banking area.

“The deal is centred on two businesses that the bank considers strategic — digital banking and consumer finance — and on different geographies,” it said.

Avantcard bought out MBNA’s Irish credit card business in 2012. It has had a busy year, launching its offer of personalised loan rates for customers in May, a month after reaching agreement to buy Tesco Bank’s Irish portfolio of credit card customers. Avantcard has about 151,000 customers here and €66m in personal loans. It offers credit cards through insurance brokerage Chill.ie and An Post — the latter relationship opening speculation about a move into mortgages.

“Bankinter’s strategic rationale is to grow its international exposure, with consumer finance its preferred route. It could also, potentially, provide it with a route into the mortgage market in the longer-term, given its existing agreement with An Post for consumer lending and An Post’s intention to seek a partner to enter the mortgage market,” said Davy.

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