27/02/2003

Ulster Bank profits surge by 8%

The Ulster Bank has seen an 8% rise in annual profits according to figures released today.

Parent company the Royal Bank of Scotland published in annual report today, indicating that the Ulster Bank had increased profits by £37 million to £520 million.

Net interest income rose by 8% or £26 million to £339 million, the group said, "reflecting good growth in loans and deposits despite a less buoyant economic environment in the Republic of Ireland".

Average customer lending and deposits of the banking business increased by 10%, £0.7 billion, to £8.0 billion, and by 7%, £0.5 billion, to £7.9 billion respectively.

The group reported that average mortgage lending grew by 23% to £1.5 billion and the number of current accounts increased by 5%.

Expenses, on the other hand, increased by 6% or £15 million to £254 million to support "higher business volumes and pay awards".

RBoS Group Chief Executive Fred Goodwin paid tribute to his staff, but the prospect of a war in the Middle East had cast something of a shadow over "an otherwise reasonable prognosis for the key economies in which we operate".

He added: "By continuing to focus on the fundamentals of credit quality, income growth and improving efficiency, we are confident that we can continue to deliver superior sustainable value to our shareholders, our customers and our people."

Elsewhere, it has been reported that the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) has signalled that industrial action may be taken by 1,500 Ulster Bank staff over what they claim are breaches of agreements on pay and expenses.

The union will ballot its members next month.

(GMcG)

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