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Danske Bank has seen its pre-tax profits grow by 11% to £35m for the start of the year

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Danske Bank has seen its pre-tax profits grow to £35m

Danske Bank has seen its pre-tax profits grow to £35m

Danske Bank has seen its pre-tax profits grow to £35m

Danske Bank has seen its pre-tax profits grow to £35m for the start of 2016 — up 11% on the same period a year earlier.

And approvals for new mortgages have more than doubled, year-on-year.

Danske employs 1,400 people across Northern Ireland at 46 branches and four regional finance centres.

Last year the bank saw its profits soar to £140m for 2015 — up 40% on the same period a year earlier.

Profits were buoyed by so-called writebacks — additional cash clawed back from loan impairments.

In the first quarter of this year, profits before impairments grew by almost a third.

The bank’s deposit book also rose in the first three months of the year, increasing to £5.8bn, up from  £5.5bn.

Danske’s chief executive, Kevin Kingston, said the bank’s “underlying financial performance has continued its upward trajectory and we are maintaining a prudent approach to cost management”.

“We started the year with an ambition to significantly grow our presence in the mortgage market, alongside maintaining our market leading position in business banking and among higher net worth customers through our private banking and wealth units.”

“With regards to our small and medium sized business customers, new lending was up by 52% year-on-year. As well as attracting new customers, it has been particularly pleasing to see many existing customers starting to once again invest in growing their businesses.”

And on the corporate end, he said Danske was responsible for financing some of the largest commercial projects in the last few months.

That included the sale of Bloomfield shopping centre, and plans by Lagan Homes to build 550 new houses.

And Mr Kingston says as “consumer and business confidence continues to improve we expect demand for finance to increase further”.

“We look forward to continuing to support customers and the wider economy in the year ahead.”

Earlier this year, he said businesses in Northern Ireland are putting off key investments amid uncertainty ahead of a vote on whether the UK should exit the EU.

“Anything which makes trade with Europe more complex and more difficult has to be bad news,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ulster Bank owner Royal Bank of Scotland has reported a first-quarter pre-tax loss of £968m — more than double last year’s figure of £446m.

The loss reflects the impact of its £1.2bn payment last month to the Treasury to buy out a crucial part of its £45bn bailout.

The payment ended a dividend access share agreement with the Government which was put in place in 2009 and prevented it paying dividends to any shareholders before the Treasury.

The bank said: “RBS remains on track with its plan to build a strong, simple, fair bank for customers and shareholders.”

Income fell from £3.5bn to £3bn following the sale of its Citizens business in the US and the decision to dramatically scale back its overseas and investment banking offering.

The cost of restructuring the bank came in at £238m, with RBS expecting the number to grow to £1bn for the year.

Belfast Telegraph