Belfast Telegraph

Northern Bank posts massive £100m loss

The Northern Bank's losses totalled £100 million last year.

The bank made an operating profit of £68.6 million, but had to set aside £168.7 million to cover loans it thinks might not be repaid, largely in the property sector.

The bank returned to profitability in the last quarter of the year, making £2.2 million.

Chief executive Gerry Mallon said that, while conditions remained tough, he was optimistic this year would see slow recovery.

"Given the local climate, we had to make prudent provision for potential losses," he said.

"However, these provisions have reduced across the year and we were able to comfortably absorb these within our strong capital base."

Mr Mallon added that, despite the huge bad loan provision, the size of actual write-offs was very low at £7.6 million for the year.

He claimed the bank had faced aggressive competition for customers but was successful in retaining its deposit base.

"We have seen reduced demand for business lending as many have cut back on investment and development," he said.

Northern Bank began in 1809 as a Belfast-based banking company known as the Northern Banking Partnership. It was acquired by the Danske Bank Group in 2005, the largest bank in Denmark and a major player in Scandinavian financial markets. It has 83 branches in Northern Ireland, employing 1,250 people.