Belfast Telegraph

Officials held merger talk over banks just a year ago

By Colm Kelpie

Top officials here and in the UK held talks on possibly merging Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank as recently as last June, official documents show.

A potential merger of UK state-controlled Ulster Bank and Irish Government-owned Permanent TSB was discussed between the Department of Finance, the UK Treasury and parent company Royal Bank of Scotland, official documents show.

However, it's understood the Northern Ireland operation of Ulster Bank would have been hived off and brought closer to the rest of the UK operations in the event of a merger of Permanent TSB.

The Republic's Department of Finance prepared analysis on what a merger of the two banks would look like, and senior officials from the Department sought to present it to RBS last June.

Discussions between Finance and the UK Treasury began as far back as the previous March, focusing on so-called "synergies" between the two lenders, as well as dealing with tracker mortgages and any state aid concerns, according to the documents released under Freedom of Information.

Belfast Telegraph