Dozen Ulster Bank branches to close today as part of withdrawal process from State

A dozen Ulster Bank branches will close today as part of the bank’s withdrawal from the Irish market.

hey will be reopened in a few weeks as Permanent TSB branches after that bank agreed to buy non-tracker mortgages and 25 branches from departing Ulster Bank.

Another 13 Ulster branches are due to close in the coming weeks.

Permanent TSB is investing €25m in an upgrade of branches it is taking over.

Branches closing today are those in Ardee, Co Louth; Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan; Blackrock, Dublin; Blanchardstown Village, Dublin; Celbridge, Co Kildare; Enniscorthy, Co Wexford; Kilcock, Co Kildare; Lucan, Co Dublin; Ranelagh, Dublin; Rochestown Avenue, Dublin; Swords Pavillions, Co Dublin; and Trim, Co Meath.

Apart from the 25 branches being taken over by Permanent TSB, another 63 Ulster Bank branches will remain open for the moment, with final permanent closure dates expected to be announced in a few months.

And from today Ulster Bank is to resume the process of freezing the accounts of customers whose six months’ notice period to close them has expired.

The freezing of the accounts, which is the step before they are closed by the bank, was paused in early December to prevent customers facing financial difficulty over the Christmas period.

On the date communicated to them, the customer’s account will be frozen, or become non-operational, the bank said.

If a customer needs urgent access to these funds, Ulster Bank said it will facilitate that and can also facilitate extra time to move the account, if the customer needs this.

Some 30 days after the account is frozen, the account will be closed and a cheque issued for the remaining balance, minus any fees which are due. There is no charge to close the account, it said.

No date for Ulster Bank to cease all retailing banking services in this country has been given yet.

That will depend on the speed and success of the process of getting customers to close and migrate their accounts to other lenders.

However, there are signs that people are slow to close accounts in Ulster Bank and in the other departing bank, KBC Bank Ireland.

Of around 1.2 million accounts in the two banks at the start of last year less than half have so far been closed, according to Central Bank of Ireland data. Permanent TSB has said it hopes to fully complete the transfer of all the assets it is purchasing from Ulster Bank by the end of June.

In November, Permanent said it had completed the purchase of the performing non-tracker residential mortgage business, made up of loans worth €6.2bn.

The Ulster Bank SME and asset finance businesses that are being bought will also transfer to Permanent TSB in due course.

Up to 450 staff will transfer from Ulster Bank to Permanent TSB as part of the wider deal.

As part of the deal, the NatWest Group will take a 16.7pc stake in Permanent, which is majority owned by the Irish State.

The deal will be funded by €6.4bn of cash, plus NatWest taking an expected 90.9 million of new PTSB shares. That will give it the 16.7pc stake.

The deal is transformative for Permanent TSB.

Its loan book will grow by 40pc, after more than a decade of shrinkage in the wake of the financial crash, and will see its branch network expand by 30pc as a result of the transaction as it acquires 25 of Ulster Bank’s 88 branches in the Republic.

AIB is buying Ulster Bank’s tracker mortgage book and is currently awaiting a decision from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission on the proposed transaction.

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