Permanent TSB has reported an operating loss before exceptional items of €171m for the first half of its trading year.  That is down 62% on the same time last year when it reported an operating loss of €449m.

Jeremy Masding, Permanent TSB's group chief executive, said he was not getting carried away by the performance of the bank during the first six months of the year. "We're still on a journey towards profitability, but we're pleased that we're moving in the right direction," he said. 

The bank reported a very significant increase in mortgage lending in the first half of the year, which rose by over 350% to €180m. Mr Masding said that gave PTSB a 13% market share. He also confirmed that the group had started the process of hiving off its non-core loan books. "We agreed in 2012 that we'd start the process this year. We're in the middle of transactions, so I can't comment as the information is commercially sensitive." The bank's restructuring plan is still in Brussels where it is awaiting approval by the European Commission. Jeremy Masding said the bank was viewing the forthcoming stress tests of European banks with some degree of confidence.

The CEO said the number of PTSB customers in mortgage arrears of 90 days or more had declined by 14% since December last. "We've offered 24,000 restructurings already but we're still contacting customers to try to get them to engage. Over 80% of our customers who do engage get offered a treatment. Of those offered treatments, 90% are still performing," he concluded.


MORNING BRIEFS - CRH has reported a 4% increase in sales revenue to 8.3 billion for the six months to the end of June. It posted pre-tax profits of €61m - a much improved performance on this time last year which was down to better weather. Revenues rose by 7% in Europe but just 1% in the Americas. CRH said that its earnings before interest, tax and other items is in line with guidance and is 27% ahead of this time last year. It said it was maintaining its dividend per share at 18.5 cent.

*** Businesses are winding down the use of cheques fast than consumers, the latest research from the Central Bank shows. Cheques issued by businesses are projected to be 28 million this year, down 5 million on the figure in 2012. Consumer-issued cheques are also falling, from 26 million in 2012 to an expected 23 million this year. From the middle of next month, public sector bodies will no longer issue or accept cheques in their dealings with businesses.

*** Dublin based telecommunications company Viatel is to invest €125m in a major expansion as part of its funding arrangement with its partner, Proventus Capital. Over the coming year, the company intends to invest in extending its fibre infrastructure, cloud services and data centres. It also plans to buy companies specialising in fibre, cloud and data services.