Bank of Ireland's profits take nearly 25% hit

As the bank says the Brexit vote could delay dividends...

Bank of Ireland's profits take nearly 25% hit

A Bank of Ireland branch in Inchicore, Dublin | Photocall file photo

Bank of Ireland has announced underlying pre-tax profit of €560m for the first half of the year.

This is a drop of almost one-quarter on the €743m figure for the same period in 2015.

Its non-performing loans were reduced by €2.1 billion.

Defaulted loans are now at 10% of customer loans, which is less than half their reported peak three years ago.

New lending amounted to €6.9bn, up 14% on the same period last year. The bank remains the country's biggest lender.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, CEO Richie Boucher said:

"From our perspective, the strong lending growth would be one of the particular features there...

"It's something we've been focusing on for quite a long time. We were able to restructure the business a few years ago.

"We focused heavily on repaying the taxpayers and therefore, we've been able to put a lot of effort into making the business sustainable and growing the business. Because ultimately that's what we've got the shareholders' capital for."

In a statement, Bank of Ireland said it was too early to fully assess the impact of Brexit on its business, but noted that it “may affect” new business generation.

It also signalled that the timing of a resumption of dividends could be impacted by the UK vote to leave the EU.

The bank hasn’t paid a dividend since the global financial crash.

Of that issue, Boucher said:

"All we're saying is that a large economy, in which we have a business, has made a momentous decision, and therefore the level of absolute confidence and conviction has to be dialled down somewhat.

"We're not taking it off the table, but it's always important that we do try and give as much guidance to the markets [as possible].

"Now we're not seeing, on the ground, Brexit as having any impact. We have good momentum in on our businesses, but we just have to be a slight bit more cautious."