Bank of Ireland sees massive rise in profits

Bank of Ireland has revealed a remarkable turnaround in fortunes with a profit of €921m for last year – an improvement of €1.5bn on 2013.

Richie Boucher, the bank’s group chief executive, said all divisions of the bank were now profitable and the bank is now the biggest lender in the economy.

The profits are the first for a full year at Bank of Ireland since the 2008 financial collapse.

“We are confident in the group’s prospects,” Mr Boucher said.

“The outlook for the Irish and UK economies remains favourable, we have our strong retail and commercial franchises in these markets and we have resilient and professional people, who are motivated and focused and have a proven track record of delivery.

“The combination of these factors gives me confidence in our ability to responsibly deliver attractive and sustainable returns to our shareholders.”

Bank of Ireland, which was the first of the main banks to return to profit after the crash, said it has paid €6bn to the Exchequer after it took €4.8bn in a bailout.

Mr Boucher said there was a huge focus on returning cash to the taxpayer as the Dublin Government still holds a 14% stake in the bank after the rescue.

A detailed look at the figures showed €10bn of new lending – an increase of over 50%.

The bank’s recovery moved from losses of €564m in 2013 to a pre-tax profit of €921m last year.

Defaulted loans reduced by €2.8bn to €14.3bn, more than a fifth below the peak.

Bank of Ireland also repossessed 200 homes last year and that more than 90% of the owner-occupiers who have restructured their mortgages with the bank are now meeting repayments.

Davy Stockbrokers said the results were better than expected.

“In a positive outlook statement the bank states it is well positioned for sustainable profitable growth in 2015 and beyond,” it said.

Mr Boucher is one of a number of bankers yesterday confirmed to give evidence to Ireland’s parliamentary banking inquiry.

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