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BANK LOANS

Va-va-vroom. What do you do if you’re a carmaker but nobody can get the money to buy your vehicles? Simple – you set up your own finance company. The Sunday Times reports that Renault will begin offering vendor finance to dealers and car buyers from next summer, joining Ford, BMW and Volkswagen in filling the vacuum left by Ireland’s cash-strapped banks.

Renault’s arrival follows the departure of GE Money, Friends First Finance, Lombard Ireland and Bank of Scotland (Ireland) from the car finance market.

Renault said its new initiative would play a key role in the launch of its low-cost, Romania-made Dacia range in Ireland in 2012.

The economy may be on its knees but other lenders are also still finding Ireland an attractive place to do business. The international banking buzzards are circling Ireland to eat the dinner of their weakened domestic competitors, The Sunday Tribune reports. And it’s doubtful whether any of their targets will be in the market for a Dacia.

“While Bank of Scotland (Ireland) is exiting the country at the end of the year, global heavy-hitters such as HSBC and Barclays, as well as more familiar names such as Ulster Bank and National Irish Bank are scavenging the Irish market for rich pickings, especially in corporate banking and high-net-worth clients,” the newspaper notes.

The article also notes the increased popularity of foreign-owned banks among depositors seeking safe havens for their cash. Rabodirect, the Nationwide Building Society and NIB have all experienced significant inflows in recent months, with Rabodirect seeing a trebling of new business for a short period.

“You have to be careful what you say as it suits nobody to see the Irish banks in distress but there has been a steady flow of both retail and corporate deposits over the past few months,” one executive at a foreign lender said. “There’s a lot of nervousness out there and you don’t want to be seen to take advantage of it.”

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