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Danske Bank pre-tax profits soar to £38.1m as economic outlook improves 

Danske Bank has said it’s looking ahead with optimism as it reported pre-tax profits of £38.1m for the first half of 2021. 

That compares with profits of just £2.9m in the same period last year, as the pandemic was taking hold.

Danske Bank said that both consumer and business customers had been saving more and paying off more debts, with deposits at the bank growing by 21% from £8.6bn to £10.4bn during the first half of this year.

The lender said it had also been able to reduce the amount set aside to cover bad debts, known as loan impairments, thanks to an improved economic outlook and the safety net of government support measures.

In comparison to impairments of £29.8m last year, the first six months of 2021 brought a write-back of £7.5m.

Last week, the bank announced the closure of four branches, which will leave it with 32 branches around Northern Ireland.

As it detailed the results for its first-half, the bank also revealed its chief executive, Kevin Kingston, will leave in September.

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Mr Kingston said the bank was moving forward “with growing optimism” and was playing a key role in Northern Ireland’s economic recovery.

In March, the bank announced a new £500m business growth fund for medium to large firms, which offers lending to firms who are prepared to move their business from another lender to Danske Bank.

Mr Kingston said the housing market had remained robust over the six months, with healthy demand from buyers.

He said the bank had become one of the first lenders in the UK to re-introduce a 95% mortgage deal during the period, as well as the UK’s first mortgage product to be certified carbon neutral.

Mr Kingston said: “As leaders globally, nationally and locally unite to build back better from the pandemic, the banking sector must play its part, and in Northern Ireland Danske Bank is fully committed to this goal.”

In the early stages of the pandemic last year, many lenders withdrew both 90% and 95% mortgage overs fears of the impact of the pandemic on the housing market.

Mr Kingston’s departure from the role of chief executive after six years in the post was announced in May, with Vicky Davies announced as his successor.

As he announced the bank’s results for the final time, Mr Kingston said: “In September I will be retiring and making way for a new chief executive.

"It has been my privilege and honour to lead the bank over the past six years and to work with so many inspirational colleagues.

"I know that the incoming chief executive, Vicky Davies, and our strong local management team, will continue to prioritise customer experience, growing the business for the future and building back better.”

Danske said last week it will be closing branches at Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, Hillsborough in Co Down, Mallusk in Co Antrim and at University Road in Belfast on October 22.