The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition by Permanent TSB of certain Ulster Bank assets.

The CCPC announced in May that it was carrying out an in-depth investigation of the proposed acquisition of Ulster Bank's performing non-tracker mortgage loans, some non-performing loans, its micro-SME business direct loan book, 25 Ulster Bank branches as well as Ulster Bank’s asset finance loan business.

"Based on a review of the evidence available to it, the CCPC accepted the argument of the parties that Ulster Bank would have exited the State irrespective of whether or not the sale of the Target Assets proceeded," the Commission said in a statement.

"The CCPC considered whether the proposed acquisition would result in a substantial lessening of competition, when compared to the alternative scenario of a sale of Ulster Bank’s mortgage and micro SME lending assets to an alternative purchaser, and found that it would not," it added.

Permanent TSB welcomed the decision and added that the transfer of the mortgage loans was on track for completion by the end of the year.

The acquisition of the 25 branches and the Asset Finance business was on course to conclude in the first quarter of next year, the bank added.

"Approximately 400 to 450 Ulster Bank employees who are wholly or mainly assigned to the Retail, SME or Asset Finance businesses that are being acquired will be entitled to transfer to Permanent TSB under the Transfer of Undertakings regulations. The final number of employees transferring will be confirmed as the transaction completes," the bank said in a statement.

Ulster Bank also welcomed the decision.

"This is a significant step forward in the progress of our withdrawal and our next steps, over the coming weeks and months, will be to communicate with colleagues who will transfer and to communicate with customers who are expected to migrate to Permanent TSB as part of this transaction," Ulster Bank Chief Executive Jane Howard said in a statement.

In December, the banks formally agreed a legally binding deal which if approved would see NatWest sell Permanent TSB €7.6bn worth of Ulster Bank assets.

The deal includes Ulster Bank's €7 billion performing non-tracker residential mortgage book and its performing SME loan book - worth €230m.

It also includes the entire Lombard Asset Finance loan business - worth €400m - and 25 branches in Ulster Bank's branch network.