Postbank to pull out by year-end

FINANCE company Postbank, which operates in about 1,000 of the country’s post offices, is to pull out of Ireland by the end of the year.

A joint initiative between An Post and French BNP Paribas Fortis, the company has about 170,000 customers and said the decision was a commercial one.

The Financial Regulator yesterday confirmed that An Post savings accounts will not be affected by the decision and that it was working with Postbank to ensure customers’ interests were protected in accordance with the Consumer Protection Code.

Postbank employs about 260 people in Ireland. However, the company last night expressed hope that most of the jobs can be saved.

Postbank, which began operating here in 2007, will not be accepting new bank customers from Monday.

Margaret Sweeney, Postbank chief executive, said customers will be the top priority in the coming months.

“Existing customers can conduct their affairs as usual and customers can be assured that their savings are fully secure.”

The company’s corporate communications manager, Una McNamara, assured customers their deposits were safe.

“On Monday, it will be business as usual for existing Postbank customers, who will be able to continue their banking as they have always done.

“We will be writing to customers in the coming weeks to let them know their options,” she said.

Speaking last night, finance minister Brian Lenihan said he was “not totally surprised ” by the announcement.

“I am disappointed but not totally surprised. We can’t have a limitless number of banks in Ireland providing an unlimited amount of credit.”

Fine Gael deputy finance spokesperson Kieran O’Donnell last night criticised the bank for making the announcement late on a Friday afternoon, after the European Commission had approved NAMA and without any apparent prior warning.

“This looks like a deliberate attempt by the bank to bury the story, and the timing will cause considerable distress to account holders over the weekend,” he said.

Meanwhile, a receiver has been appointed to the Hughes & Hughes chain of bookstores, leading to the loss of 225 jobs at the company, which has been operating for the past 26 years.

It is understood all of the shops have been closed.

- Customers with any concerns or questions about their accounts are advised to contact Postbank directly on 1890-303040 on www.postbank.ie


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