Permanent TSB has announced a loss before tax of €48m for 2014 and a profit before exceptional items of €5m. That compares to a pre-tax loss of €668m in 2013. The bank also announced a capital raising programme and said its restructuring plan has been approved in principle by the European Commission.

Permanent TSB's Group chief executive Jeremy Masding said they were in the final stages of negotiating the terms and conditions with the authorities in Europe, but he described the development as 'great news.' He said the bank was in the middle of a transaction that would see it raise €525m from the private market. "€400m of that money will go towards repaying the state CoCo (a form of bond held by the state as part of the bailout) and €125m will go towards enhancing the capital base and meet regulatory requirements," he explained.

Mr Masding said the state would remain the majority stakeholder after the private investment but he would not speculate on how much of a stake would be held in private hands after the sale. "The feedback has been very positive. We have met many investors across the globe and told them story of how we have fixed the bank and relayed to them the view that PTSB is an important part of the Irish banking system and is on a clear path to sustainable profitability," he explained.

PTSB saw its losses reduce by 93% in 2014 and that was mainly accounted for by a write-back on impairments of €42m compared to an impairment charge of €929m in 2013. "Impairments are a function of a number of things. Property price inflation helps but the operational performance that we are delivering in arrears management is also working. We've offered 27,000 long term sustainable solutions and 8,000 fewer customers are now in long term arrears," Mr Masding said. He added that the bank repossessed 50 homes last year and a further 150 were voluntarily surrendered.

Jeremy Masding pointed out that the core bank had made a small profit in 2014. "That is what the group will consist of after deleveraging. On that front, we have agreed two major loan portfolio sales totalling €5 billion. That will complete 50% of our planned deleveraging," he concluded. The portfolios consist of Irish commercial real estate and 50% of the group's UK buy to let book.


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MORNING BRIEFS - The government is setting out an ambitious growth plan for the financial services sector today which it says will see the creation of 10,000 additional jobs in the sector by 2020 bringing employment levels from 35 to 45,000. The strategy will be launched by Minister of State at Finance, Simon Harris, later today. It will set out five strategic priorities on how Ireland can keep its edge in an increasingly competitive international financial services landscape.

*** Employment activity in the financial services sector was at a healthy level in February, according to the Morgan McKinley employment monitor. The report pointed to a particularly active jobs market in the areas of funds and asset management as well as treasury roles. Morgan McKinley reported a 23% increase in professional job vacancies overall in February compared to the same month last year. There was also a 6% increase in the number of professionals entering the employment market compared to January this year.

*** Parity between the euro and dollar could come about much quicker than anticipated, according to a panel of economists who have been revising their forecasts. The euro fell below $1.10 week as Mario Draghi and the ECB rolled out its much anticipated bond buying programme, putting downward pressure on the euro. A strong US jobs report had the opposite effect on the dollar and the prospect of interest rate hikes in the US in the coming months is putting further upward pressure on the US currency. All that movement is making investors nervous and US stocks wiped out all the gains they had made so far in 2015 overnight. European stocks also recorded substantial losses yesterday.