Written answers

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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125. To ask the Minister for Finance if he has had further engagement with a financial institution (details supplied) regarding its planned exit from the market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62028/21]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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I have engaged regularly with Ulster Bank and its parent company NatWest in relation to its planned exit from the Irish market. On 22 September, I met with Alison Rose, CEO of NatWest, Sir Howard Davies, Chair of NatWest, Jane Howard, the CEO of Ulster Bank, and Martin Murphy, the Chair of Ulster Bank, where they updated me on their progress and I emphasised the importance of an orderly withdrawal.

In this regard, I welcome the agreements which have been put in place by Ulster Bank since its initial announcement:

- On 11 June, Ulster Bank announced that a new Colleague Agreement has been reached with the Financial Services Union subject to a ballot of its members.

- On 28 June, Ulster Bank agreed a legally binding agreement with AIB in respect of a €4.2bn portfolio of performing loan products. I note that Ulster Bank expects c. 280 staff wholly or mainly assigned to this loan book to transfer also.

- On 23 July, Ulster Bank reached a non-binding agreement with PTSB for the proposed sale of €7.6bn performing loans, Ulster Bank’s Lombard Asset Finance business, and 25 Ulster Bank branch locations. I note that if this potential transaction is delivered, it is expected that between 400 and 500 Ulster Bank employees will transfer to PTSB.

At the end of October it was also helpful to see Ulster Bank signposting the next step in its closure by encouraging customers to begin considering their options, availing of supports and getting ready to choose a new banking provider. I note that Ulster Bank does not anticipate closing any branches in the first half of 2022 and will begin to phase out traditional counter/ cash services to concentrate on in-person support for customers to move bank and/ or close accounts in the second half of the year.

In terms of regulatory requirements, Provision 3.11 of the Central Bank's Consumer Protection Code 2012 applies. This requires that a regulated entity that intends to cease operating, merge with another, or to transfer all or part of its regulated activities to another regulated entity must:

- provide affected consumers with at least two months’ notice to enable them to make alternative arrangements if they so wish;

- ensure all outstanding business is properly completed prior to any transfer, merger or cessation of operations; or, in the case of a transfer or merger, inform customers as to how continuity of service will be provided following a transfer or merger; and

- in the case of a merger or transfer of regulated activities, inform customers that their details are being transferred to the other regulated entity, if that is the case.

The Central Bank’s supervision of any bank that withdraws from the market will be focused on ensuring that its customers are treated fairly, and that the bank remains incompliance with the letter and spirit of regulatory requirements.


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