PTSB reports €266m after-tax loss

The bank's group chief executive tells Newstalk: "In many ways, it's the start of the beginning"

Permanent TSB suffered a €266 million after-tax loss in 2016, though there are signs that its financial ship is being steadied.

The damage to its bottom line, for example, is far less than in 2015, when it posted an after-tax loss of €425m.

Its latest results included exceptional costs of €414m (down from €460m), relating to the sale of its remaining UK businesses to complete its deleveraging programme, and other restructuring costs.

PTSB noted a pre-tax "headline" profit before exceptional items of €188m, which was helped by the €29m sale of its Visa Europe stake, which shows increased profitability at a trading level.

The bank, which floated on the stock market two years ago but is still 75% State-owned, stated that it would not be able to pay a dividend from 2017 earnings.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, group chief executive Jeremy Masding (pictured) said he was targeting a dividend pay-out within the next two years. The new results show that he received an 11% increase (some €50,000) to his total remuneration last year.

He said of the bank's 2016 performance and overall future:

"I think the core business turnaround is continuing at pace. I'm pleased with the performance of the business ... at an operating level.

"We're now significantly making profits. Our mortgage lending went up 14% last year. So I think all the signs are good for the business after a number of years of heavy lifting to try and transform the organisation."

Responding to the fact that almost €70m in reserves against bad debt was added back in, he argued that there was still a dramatic improvement in pure trading terms:

"Our net interest margin, our cost/income ratio are all going in the right direction.

"Absolutely I accept that part of the numbers are to do with a provision-right back, but at a pure trading level and I'm really pleased and proud of all my team."

Masding stated that, "broadly speaking", big exceptional costs would now be a thing of the past as the troika's €9bn deleveraging programmme was complete.

"We're now back to being the domestic Irish retail and SME bank that we were asked to build by the troika," he said.

"And so in many ways it's the start of the beginning and the mood in the place is excellent. Everyone's really confident and we're now looking forward to competing with full focus on our Irish customers."