Belfast Telegraph

Sale of division in Republic may be reconsidered by Ulster Bank owner

By Staff Reporter

Ulster Bank owner Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) could revisit whether to sell its division in the Republic as early as next year, it has been claimed.

The bank will revisit the issue of whether to sell the Irish unit as early as next year, according to a report by Bloomberg, quoting an unnamed source.

The review will examine the consumer business in the Republic, which was effectively separated from Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland this year.

But a spokeswoman for RBS said the strategy for Ulster Bank "remains unchanged".

In 2014 RBS ditched plans to sell all or part of Ulster Bank following a lengthy review.

However, a decision was taken to integrate its Northern Ireland business into RBS in the UK, and operate the bank's division in the Republic on a stand alone basis.

RBS had decided to keep Ulster Bank partly because of the complexity and cost of separating the business from the rest of the group, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. RBS chief Ross McEwan said in September that Ulster Bank still has "unacceptably high" costs, but is showing "positive signs."

The bank has said that after an "extensive strategic review" that Ulster Bank was a core part of the bank "and we are now pushing ahead with our strategy to create a strong challenger bank focused on our customers" in the Republic.

Just last month it was revealed that current Danske Bank chief executive Gerry Mallon is taking on the top role with Ulster Bank in the Republic in June of next year.

Mr Mallon, who initially turned down his first opportunity to work in the sector, will now lead Ulster Bank in the Republic as it competes against Allied Irish and the Bank of Ireland.

The father-of-four has led Danske Bank since 2008.

He joined Danske as deputy chief executive from the Bank of Ireland after the Copenhagen-based company took over Northern Bank. His promotion to head of the business came just weeks before the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Belfast Telegraph