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Ulster Bank lost €1,500 a minute in the first three months of 2013

The British-owned bank continued to post an operating profit – but saw its gains worn away as it wrote off €285m of debts.

Image: Paul Faith/PA Archive

ULSTER BANK has recorded a loss of almost €195 million for the first three months of 2013 – the equivalent of €1,500 every single minute.

The British-owned bank made a profit of €90.25 million in its everyday operations – but saw its gains eroded as it set aside €285 million to offset losses from non-performing loans.

Just over a third of that amount – €106.9 million – in household mortgages, with €54.6 million written off in commercial investments and €16.6 million in commercial developments.

The bank’s parent group, the Royal Bank of Scotland, was pleased with its performance, however, noting that its losses were “a material improvement” on the €289 million it had lost in the final quarter of 2012, and only just over half of the €368 million it lost in the first quarter of 2012.

“Ulster Bank delivered a significant improvement in operating results with reduced impairment charges, in line with the recent stabilisation of the macroeconomic environment in the Republic of Ireland, driving a 33 per cent reduction in operating losses,” RBS said.

It said the falling impairment charges – which were down by 36 per cent compared to the same period in last year – indicated that “credit trends in Ireland are turning a corner”.

That 36 per cent reduction was the best performance of any bank in the RBS group. Ulster Bank had also posted a “material improvement” in its retail and commercial operations, RBS said.

In all, the RBS group reported an operating profit of €1.585 billion (£1.334 billion) for the first three months of the year – good news for the British taxpayer, which owns over 80 per cent of the bank since a series of recapitalisations in 2009.

Read: Ulster Bank drops free banking with €4 monthly charge for current accounts

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Gavan Reilly

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