The Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) has called on Ulster Bank to clarify its future following a story in this newspaper about a possible takeover by a private equity firm.
“The continuing speculation about the future of Ulster Bank is sapping the morale of staff who are already concerned about the implications of a major restructuring programme that has been under discussion for the last three months,” said IBOA general secretary, Larry Broderick.
The Irish Examiner reported on Wednesday that Royal Bank of Scotland was weighing up a management-supported private equity takeover.
The broad outline of the deal is that a private equity firm, mostly likely either KKR or Apollo, would take over Ulster Bank for a price between €500m to €2.5bn, depending on the assets included and with the current management team remaining in place.
As part of the deal RBS would take over some of Ulster Bank’s distressed assets and provide an indemnity against future losses.
However, sources familiar with the situation say these negotiations have been put in abeyance while RBS completes an internal review of its operations.
Moreover, RBS is said to be considering three or four options in relation to the future of Ulster Bank.
“As the senior management teams of neither Ulster Bank nor RBS have offered any clarification about any of the speculation in the course of its ongoing negotiations with the union on its restructuring plans, IBOA has written to Ross McEwan, RBS chief executive, as well as Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, expressing concern about the continuing information vacuum surrounding this major financial institution,” said Mr Broderick.
“Speculation has intensified about the future of Ulster Bank,” he said.
“This continuing uncertainty does nothing to enhance the image of the bank,” said Mr Broderick.
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