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August 1, 2009updated 12 Apr 2017 4:34pm

Heart ripped out of Irish lease banking sector

Last month, leasing staff at Bank of Scotlands Ireland (BoSI) operation in Dublin waited with bated breath for news of their future. In total, around 1,700 staff at the Irish bank including the organisations leasing employees are awaiting the results of a root-and-branch review of the whole bank.

By Fred Crawley

BoS Ireland was due to make an
announcement on July 23 – but had still not done so at time of
going to press – as to how many jobs will be culled from the
bank.

Considering claims that BoSI has not
signed any new leasing business since the beginning of this year –
meaning staff were largely only handling old portfolios – the
future of the asset finance employees does not look good.

BoSI began rolling out its network of
44 Halifax branches in 2006, and in its last annual statement
reported a pre-tax loss of €250 million, which figured in €553
million of write downs on bad loans, including leasing
business.

Meanwhile, some 200 employees of
Lombard Ireland, the asset finance division of RBS’ Irish
subsidiary Ulster Bank, were notified in early June that their
employer was one of a number of RBS’ business units under review
and termed “non-core”.

However, a spokesperson from Lombard
noted that the term “non-core” was being used loosely. He
emphasised that the “review process was still underway and that no
conclusions have been made as yet”.

Up to 10 percent of Lombard Ireland’s
portfolio, between €1 billion and €1.5 billion in size, is believed
to be in arrears.

As part of the bank’s response to the
steep Irish recession, it closed its doors to almost all broker
business at the end of April, stating “it is vital that we continue
to maintain the quality of our lending” in correspondence to
brokers.

Next was Bank of Ireland, which shut
off introduced business on 1 July, citing “a review of all sources
of business”.

A week later it was reported that AIB
Leasing, which had continued to be significantly active through
intermediaries in the year’s first half, had withdrawn its broker
links effective from the start of August.

John O’Mahoney, the head of AIB’s
asset finance operation, is believed to have been transferred to a
position elsewhere in the banking group.

Fred Crawley

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