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Ulster Bank posts profits of £58m for its Northern Ireland business

By John Mulgrew

Ulster Bank has posted pre-tax profits of £58m for 2016.

The results, released this morning, are the first time the bank has broken down regional figures for its Northern Ireland operations.

Just under half of its profits were made up of so-called 'writebacks' - cash set aside to cover expected loan losses, which can then be released.

Profit before impairment writebacks was £31m.

Total income at the bank was up 4% - rising to £176m.

And there was an increase of 15% in Northern Ireland mortgage lending.

Overall, operating costs fell by 6% during the year. Earlier this year, the Belfast Telegraph revealed the bank is set to shut nine branches across Northern Ireland.

Richard Donnan, head of Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland, said:

"Today’s results demonstrate that we are a strong, safe and profitable bank that plays an active and leading role in supporting personal and business customers across Northern Ireland in achieving their ambitions.

"These figures from the bank’s statutory accounts represent the robust underlying performance of the business in Northern Ireland. A profit before impairment writebacks of £31m and a 6% decline in operating costs related to the business in Northern Ireland from £154m to £145m indicates the bank’s continuing progress on managing cost to maintain the strength and stability of the bank.

"Our ambition is to be the number one bank for customer service, trust and advocacy by providing meaningful help for what matters to our customers. We have done that with our customers by supporting some of the largest corporate investments in Northern Ireland in the fields of healthcare, agri-food and hospitality, despite broader uncertainty.

"We are here to underpin the investment in infrastructure and capability that enables our local businesses to thrive. This was further evidenced by the fact that loan drawdowns by small businesses increased by 40% year-on-year.

"We still have work to do to manage our costs in order to grow our business in a sustainable way, but we have made significant progress on that front and I am pleased that we have impairment writebacks of £27m, driven by improved residential and commercial property market conditions increasing collateral values and generating the release of provisions."

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