KBC Bank Ireland has reported profits of €75m for 2015, a marked improvement on the net loss of €91m posted in 2014.

The bank said its operating profits for the year - before tax and impairment costs - came to €119m.

The bank said its loan impairment costs came to €48m last year and it said it saw a 25% reduction in the number of mortgages arrears cases last year.

Its share of the mortgage market rose to 14% in 2015 and 74,000 new customers opened accounts with it during the year. 

KBC also expanded its network last year as it opened new retail banking hubs in key locations, including Wilton in Cork, Waterford, Naas, Kilkenny and Greystones and a flagship digital hub on College Green in Dublin. It currently has 15 retail hubs.

Wim Verbraeken, KBC Bank Ireland's chief executive, said the bank was "very satisfied" with its financial performance for last year.

Mr Verbraeken said the fact that the bank attracted 74,000 new customers showed that it knows the market and understands customers' banking needs right across current account and deposits, mortgages and loans, investments, credit card and insurance. 

"We also remain fully committed to working closely with customers in financial difficulties to try and establish a suitable resolution," he added.

Slovakia, Bulgaria impairment curbs KBC's final quarter 

Belgium's KBC Bank today reported a fourth-quarter net profit below market expectations as the bank and insurance group took an impairment on its operations in Bulgaria and Slovakia. 

The group said €344m of goodwill impairment was taken because of a lower value of its CSOB unit in Slovakia as well as CIBANK and DZI Insurance in Bulgaria.

But the bank said the impairment would not affect its capital ratios. 

The group made smaller profits in its Belgian home market in the fourth quarter than a year earlier as it recorded a lower income from interest as well as reduced fees and commissions. 

While the result in the Czech Republic, its other main market, was broadly stable compared to last year, it made a profit in its international business which was still loss-making in 2014. 

KBC said its capital ratio, based on Basel 3 rules, was 14.9% at the end of the year, an increase of 0.6 percentage points in spite of having paid back the remainder of state support received during the 2008-09 financial crisis. 

The company paid back €2 billion to the Flemish region together with a 50% penalty at the end of 2015, left over from a total of €7 billion it received from Belgium and the region of Flanders. 

Because of a tax gain related to the liquidation of its US unit, which KBC had already announced in the third quarter, net profit still almost doubled from a year earlier for the group as a whole. 

The €862m net profit recorded in the fourth quarter was below the €1.228 billion expected in a Reuters poll of analysts.