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18 Sep 2020 | 10:06

NatWest mulls wind-down of Ulster Bank in Republic - report

(Sharecast News) - NatWest is considering winding down Ulster Bank's operations in the Republic of Ireland after the Covid-19 crisis made the task of reviving the business harder, according to a report. A strategic review run from the UK is at an advanced stage, the Irish Times reported. Ulster Bank has 88 branches and more than 2,500 employees in the Republic.

Running off the business would take six years and require sales of loan batches to rivals or non-bank lenders. Another option would be merging Ulster Bank Ireland with another lender though this is seen as less likely, the Irish Times said.

Ulster Bank has been a drag on NatWest's since the financial crisis when its bad debts contributed to Royal Bank of Scotland's near-collapse. A computer failure in 2012 was costly and embarrassing. NatWest considered pulling out of the Republic six years ago but elected to stay.

NatWest, which changed its name from Royal Bank of Scotland in July, has owned Ulster Bank since before the division of Ireland into the Republic and Northern Ireland, also known as Ulster.

London County and Westminster Bank bought Ulster Bank in 1917 and then went on to form NatWest. Royal Bank of Scotland bought London-based NatWest in 2000. Rose adopted the NatWest name to mark a split with RBS's troubled past after the bank nearly brought down the UK financial system 2008.

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