Ulster Bank (ROI) has reported an operating profit of €1m for the three months to the end of September, down from operating profits of €34m the same time last year.

The bank, which is owned by NatWest, said its total income fell by 9.9% to €145m from €161m mainly due to lower lending income, reduced transaction volumes and fee income due to the impact of Covid-19.  

As at the end of September, Ulster Bank said it had approved over 17,000 payment breaks. 

Of those who have rolled off their initial payment break, it said that about 46% have opted for a second payment break, representing around 8% of its lending book by value.

Ulster Bank said that net loans to customers decreased by €0.3 billion compared with the second quarter of the year as repayments continued to exceed gross new lending, combined with the effects of its non-performing loan sale agreed in 2019. 

Gross new lending of €0.4 billion was broadly in line with the second quarter of the year, it added.

Ulster Bank's parent group Natwest, in its results today, said its strategy to grow the Ulster Bank business in Ireland "organically and safely" remains unchanged. 

"We continue to evaluate the impact of Covid-19 and the challenges to the economy and we are reviewing our strategy appropriately and responsibly in light of these events," NatWest said. 

"In the event of any changes being made to our strategy, these would be undertaken with full consideration of any impact on customers, colleagues and shareholders in the first instance," it said. 

"Our priority now is to continue to remain focused on supporting our colleagues in serving our customers in these difficult times," it added.

NatWest CEO Alison Rose

On a conference call today, NatWest chief executive Alison Rose said the bank's strategy for Ulster Bank remains unchanged.

Alison Rose also said that Ulster Bank's chief executive Jane Howard and her team were "doing a good job in terms of continuing to safely grow that business and reduce cost."

"At this current time our priority is supporting our customers and making sure that we support them during this period," Ms Rose said. 

"As you would expect I am evaluating the impact of Covid and the challenges on the economy and we are reviewing our strategy appropriately and responsibly in light of that," she said. 

She also said that in the event of any changes being made to NatWest's strategy in relation to Ulster Bank that any changes will be undertaken with full consideration of any impact on customers, colleagues and shareholders.

"We clearly have restrictions on dividends that are in place at the moment so we are evaluating our positions, but no decisions have been made, but we are carrying out a review," the NatWest CEO reitirated. 


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Alison Rose said that Ulster Bank's CET 1 ratio –  a key measure of financial strength – currently stands at 28.5%. 

"Clearly we've been working very hard with that business and my strategy is very much focused around ensuring we apply strong capital discipline in terms of where we are allocating our capital to make sure that we are driving the right balance of returns for shareholders overall as well as supporting customers," Ms Rose said. 

"With the outlook of Covid and the economic uncertainty, as you would expect, I am considering and evaluating the impact of that on the business and we are reviewing our strategy appropriately and also responsibly," she stated.

"Right now the most important thing is we are focusing on supporting our customers in Ireland," she stated.

"These are very challenging times clearly and any changes that I make I'm going to do with very full consideration of all of our stakeholders," she added. 

"No decisions have been made, we are carrying out a review and we will obviously consult with all stakeholders in due course," the bank CEO concluded.