Whither Ulster Bank?
I've written several times on my Blog about Ulster Bank's on-going woes. RBS announced last week in its annual results that Ulster Bank suffered a £1.5bn loss in 2013, largely due to writing off property debts. RBS now appears to want rid of its problem child - story here. Ulster Bank over-extended itself during the Irish property boom and its reckless behaviour before 2007 is coming back year after year to haunt it.
Ulster Bank merged with the bank that was to become NatWest in 1917. Following RBS's acquisition of NatWest in 2000, Ulster Bank became an RBS subsidiary. If RBS want to break this near-century association with the British mainland, who will buy the Ulster Bank? A merger with a southern bank (e.g. Permanent TSB) which doesn't have a large presence in the north may be a possibility. I'm not sure that politicians would like to see a merger with the likes of Danske for competition reasons. My own preference would be for a private equity group to take over Ulster Bank or for the bank to be spun off from RBS on to the Stock Exchange. I, for one, would invest.