ULSTER BANK TO PUSH FOR SME BUSINESS
Ulster Bank is to target small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a big advertising push next month, according to the Sunday Times. The bank is also to announce longer opening hours – 9.a.m. to 4.30 p.m. – in its branch network from September 7 and there are plans to open on Saturdays.
The country’s third largest lender, Ulster Bank has been competing harder in the SME arena in recent months and is understood to have been head hunting business bankers from rivals in the sector. Another development under consideration is the conversion of some branches into business-only outlets. Bank Of Scotland (Ireland), which announced its withdrawal from the Irish market last week, has 12,000 business customers.
The change in direction follows a reported operating loss by Ulster Bank of €383 million in Ireland in the first half of the year and loan impairment losses of €610 million. It is moving another €6.5 billion of impaired Irish loans into an asset protection scheme to stem losses. The bank has said it is transferring the additional loans because it plans to exit the development property lending business in Ireland.