BANK OF IRELAND PLANNING €33 BILLION IN 'NEW LENDING' INTO ECONOMY- Bank of Ireland is planning to release €33 billion in “new” lending into the economy here by the end of 2017 as it pursues a sustainable return to profitability. In an interview with The Irish Times today, the bank’s chief executive Richie Boucher also said the number of repossessions in Ireland this year of owner-occupied properties was likely to be in the “hundreds” but would always be a “last resort”. Mr Boucher said the ambitious lending target followed a strategic review last year, which led to the formulation of a five-year plan for the bank. It will include €12 billion in fresh lending to SMEs over the next three years and about €13 billion in new mortgages over the timeframe of the plan. The balance will comprise other consumer and corporate lending. “That’s all new or increased lending,” Mr Boucher said. “We are strongly supportive of the Irish economy. We’re investing huge amounts of money in our branch network and our payments systems even though we’re having to reduce our operating costs. So we believe in this country.” Mr Boucher said more than €200 million had been invested in its branches in the past few years to gear it up for this new business. He wants the bank to be the lead provider of lending to Irish SMEs and to have a share of 35-40% of new mortgages each year, something it achieved in 2013.
AIB's BUSINESS CUSTOMERS HIT BY ONLINE PRICE HIKE- Bail-out AIB will hike the cost of banking for at least 43,000 businesses from March, the Irish Independent has revealed. The bank is increasing the cost of its online business banking product, known as an IBB account. Some 43,000 businesses used these type of accounts as of last June, and almost all will be affected. The price rise should generate around €2.15m in extra revenue for the bank. The cost of a basic IBB account will rise 25%, to €250 a year from €200. More sophisticated versions will also be affected. For businesses with two entities registered under one bank account, the annual price rises to €400 from €350. Businesses with three entities registered under one account will be charged €500, up from €450. The price hike was approved by the Central Bank. The first quarterly charge with new rates will be levied in June.
UNION INSISTS BANK WORKERS IN ARREARS ‘TREATED THE SAME - The Irish Bank Officials’ Association has accused the Revenue Commissioners of creating a false impression that bank workers are having their loans written off. General secretary Larry Broderick said very few bank officials had received loans at a preferential rate and he wasn’t aware of any cases where employees were having their debts written off, writes the Irish Examiner. “I’m not aware of any situation where individuals have been given preferential treatment. Bank officials in arrears are treated just like any other customer,” he said. The comments came after a Revenue official clarified that it would be forcing bank officials, who are in serious mortgage arrears and looking to have their debts written off, to pay tax in relation to the amount being written off. Mr Broderick said that the Revenue was creating an impression that it was going after bank workers who had received ‘sweetheart deals’. “The impression they created is that bank officials are in huge difficulty and getting preferential and its not true,” he said. Bank officials who received preferential rates will already have been taxed as a benefit in kind. Revenue has said it will be looking at all criteria in relation to loans to see if bank employees receive preferential treatment when it comes to the writing off of debts.
NEW YORK PROBES BANKS OVER EARLY WARNINGS TIPS TO FUND MANAGERS - The New York attorney-general is investigating whether Wall Street banks and their equity analysts gave select fund managers early warning of changes to stock recommendations, by filling out surveys for clients that hinted of their intentions, says the Financial Times. Eric Schneiderman said on Thursday that banks had become a target of his wide-ranging investigation into what he called “insider trading 2.0”, after earlier agreeing a settlement with BlackRock under which it agreed to cease all analyst surveys. BlackRock, the world’s largest fund manager, ran regular polls to gather more nuanced or quantitative information than analysts publish in their formal research notes. One internal document cited in the settlement explained its intention as: “We are trying to front-run rec[ommendations]”. Mr Schneiderman said BlackRock had agreed to “be part of the solution rather than part of the problem” by co-operating with a wider examination of relationships between fund managers and equity analysts. It will pay only the costs of the investigation, about $400,000, and has not accepted or denied wrongdoing.