Bank's corporate expansion plans unveiled

The Bank of Ireland plans to double its corporate Irish business in a growth strategy which has seen it recruit 100 new bankers, the company’s corporate banking chief executive said today.

The Bank of Ireland plans to double its corporate Irish business in a growth strategy which has seen it recruit 100 new bankers, the company’s corporate banking chief executive said today.

Over the past 18 months, the company’s corporate banking sector has also been expanding niche markets in its international businesses, Richie Boucher said.

Following the success of the opening of a new Paris office, Bank of Ireland Corporate Banking is planning to open a second European office in the next few months, with further US offices to follow.

The corporate sector – which is made up of the property, domestic, institutional, global project finance and specialised finance sections - contributes 15% of the group’s overall profits, Mr Boucher said.

The property sector, which focuses on transactions of more than €30m, has been particularly strong, with profits doubling last year. Newbridge Town Centre and the Shelbourne Hotel are two of the projects funded or underwritten by the bank.

Bank of Ireland Corporate Banking has also been involved in a number of international projects, such as a 1.8 billion Canadian dollars Vancouver Airport rail link and private finance initiatives for building schools and hospitals in the UK.

It has provided more than £100m (€148m) funding for Arsenal’s new stadium in north London.

The Bank of Ireland’s corporate banking sector is expanding its specialised finance businesses, investing in areas such as film finance, which has seen the bank involved with The Libertine starring Johnny Depp and Neil Jordan’s new film Breakfast at Pluto.

The bank also arranged for the acquisition of French-based kitchen company Vogica by Arcapita, in the first transaction completed under Sharia law, which Mr Boucher said he hoped would be followed with other similar deals.

The chief executive said the bank had significant momentum in its strategy for growth, which includes the acquisition of Burdale Financial Ltd and an alliance with Macquarie Securities in the US.

“In Ireland, we are focused on a relationship-based approach, with customer needs determining the service from our comprehensive banking proposition.

“Internationally, our focus is on high growth sectors where experience, skill and expertise are differentiating factors over scale,” he said.

“With strong economic growth in our key markets of Ireland, UK and the US and with some sign of recovery in Continental Europe, most notably France and Germany, we are well positioned to increase our overall contribution to group profitability.

“Our strategy for the future is clear with increased focus on international markets, while developing Ireland as our core market.”

Mr Boucher said the company was focusing on its domestic Irish business over the next five years while exploiting niche sectors in international markets.

“This strategy will be supported through further recruitment of highly skilled bankers as well as further new office locations in Europe and the US,” he added.

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