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Chief says Danske Bank stronger than ever with further improvement on cards

By John Mulgrew

Business banking is growing at Danske Bank in Northern Ireland with more new customers, commercial property investment and a boost among its existing customer base, its deputy chief executive said.

Kevin Kingston said the bank's core trading profit was the key figure in showing the Danske's improved balance sheet.

Profits before writebacks - where property held or sold by the bank has increased in value - rose to £42.6m at the start of 2015.

The bank reported "a credit in loan impairments" of £22.4m in the first half of the year.

"The profit compares against £33m last year, and it's up 28%. That's the big figure for us," Mr Kingston said.

"The credit on loan impairments is a temporary feature and the question for me is how the core is performing. That speaks to me about how our customers are getting on."

It has 46 branches and five finance centres across Northern Ireland - compared to its 95 branches and 13 business centres in 2005.

And on the issue of cutting back its branch network, Mr Kingston said: "We have made it clear, there will be no closures this year, we are not expecting any going forward this year."

He added: "That's a pretty clear statement."

The bank's lending increased to more than £4.4bn for the first six months of 2015.

"We are a good measure of what's happening in the economy. We benefit from a strong parent group, which has continued to move forward during the recession," he said.

He said Danske was now a "stronger bank than it has ever been" and he predicted further "healthy improvement" over the rest of the year.

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