Ulster Bank cuts losses by nearly 50%
The improving fortunes of Ulster Bank in this year's first quarter marks "good progress" according to bank bosses.
Ulster Bank reported operating losses of £164m for the first quarter of 2013 compared to the £310m loss reported for the same period last year.
Bank officials attribute the welcome cut in its losses to a 39% reduction in losses on impairments.
They were £240m in the first three months of the year, compared to £394m in the first three months of 2012.
Income at the bank fell by £6m which was blamed on costs associated with trying to raise deposits and lower interest-earning loan volumes.
At the same time, however, the bank witnessed increased deposits, which experienced a rally of some 8% to £22.7bn.
Ulster Bank chairman Philip Hampton said he expected the bank's recovery process to be "substantially complete" in the next 12 to 24 months. This would allow the Government to begin selling its 81% stake from the middle of 2014, if not earlier, he said.