Ulster Bank says it could sell up to 7,000 non-performing loans

The bank has recorded an operating loss of €151 million in 2017

Ulster Bank says it could sell up to 7,000 non-performing loans

Photo: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

Ulster Bank has acknowledged that it could sell up to 7,000 loans that are in arrears.

The bank has published its full year results this morning, which show it had an operating loss of €151 million in 2017.

The sale would make it the second major bank in the country to try to put non-performing mortgages on the market.

Permanent TSB is attempting to sell around 18,000 distressed loans - a move that has sparked a political furore amid fears the loans could end up in the hands of so-called vulture funds.

Ulster Bank's outgoing CEO Gerry Mallon says his bank has adjusted accounts to reflect a potential sale of loans.

He told Newstalk Breakfast: "It's a little bit too early to be definitive in terms of any third party loan sales - and the thing we really want to do is get customers on track to repay their borrowings.

"Part of our strategy, and one of the things we've made an adjustment in our accounts for, is the fact that we reckon that a loan sale is going to be one of the things we will have to deploy. It could be approximately a third of the overall non-performing loan book."

He said the sale would be likely to happen at some stage this year.

Asked about whether vulture funds could be among the potential purchasers of the loans, he added: "The laws are a matter for the lawmakers, and the regulations are a matter for our regulators - we'll do whatever is required to comply with both.

"We'll have a portfolio that we'll bring forward to the market, and we'll see who is eligible and interested to buy it."

Fianna Fáil has already introduced a bill in the Oireachtas, aiming to ensure that any fund that purchases mortgages must be regulated by the Central Bank.