Ulster Bank eyes portfolio sell-off

Ulster Bank is believed to be looking at selling its Dublin-based investment property loan portfolio, estimated to be worth a combined €1 billion.

The bank refused to comment on the matter yesterday but such a disposal would generally be viewed as being in line with its efforts to strengthen its balance sheet by disposing of non-core assets. Only last month, Ulster Bank — as part of parent group, Royal Bank of Scotland’s annual results — reported a near 40% increase in operating losses for 2011 and a 19% rise in impairment charges to cover loan losses.

A widening in RBS’ total group losses — from just over £1.1bn to £2bn — for 2011 is also thought to be a factor in any potential sell-off of Ulster’s investment property loan book.

It is plausible such a sale could also include the loan behind the Liam Carroll-developed Sir John Rogerson’s Quay headquarters of the Irish division of US financial services group, State Street, a building which had been reportedly considered for sale, by Ulster Bank last year and which brings in annual rents of €7m.

Elsewhere, yesterday, AIB said that it anticipates approving more than €1bn worth of mortgages in 2012; a figure which would be significantly up on the €845m it approved last year. The bank said that it doesn’t have, in place, an upper limit on its lending provisions to the mortgage market.


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