Ulster Bank new loans to businesses reach €440m in Q1
Total customer numbers within SME sector increased by 8%
Ulster Bank ahead of target in terms of lending to businesses this year. Photograph: Frank Miller
Ulster Bank provided €440 million in new lending in the first quarter of this year, across all business types: SME, corporate and institutional.
This has put it ahead of target in terms of its lending to businesses this year.
Within the SME sector, total customer numbers increased by more than 8 per cent, while the volume of overall of lending transactions rose by 26 per cent in the first quarter.
In January, Ulster Bank launched a dedicated €1.2 billion fund for new and existing business customers to support its growth plans in 2014.
Called Ahead for Business, the bank held 15 events across the country, attended by 2,300 existing and potential customers.
The number of start-up accounts opened was 36 per cent higher than the same period of last year.
Agriculture accounted for more than 40 per cent of Ulster Bank new lending to SMEs in the first quarter of 2014.
It is now banking one-quarter of agribusinesses in the Republic.
This is a result of putting in place a network of accredited agri managers and developing new products such as its recently launched dairy expansion loan and start-ups package for farmers.
In terms of clean tech, Ulster Bank has funded about 388 megawatts of renewable and wind farm projects across the island.
In corporate funding, Ulster Bank has sourced new opportunities, including refinancing banks that are leaving the Irish market, and supporting its plc client base, where corporates have been actively locking in term funding packages.
Opportunities have also been created by new equity funds that have been established to target the Irish market.
For example, it provided term facilities and invoice financing facilities as part of investment in Lily O’Brien’s chocolate group by private equity group Carlyle Cardinal Ireland.
It has also supported clients who are seeking to invest in their productive capacity to tap foreign markets, notably in food and drink and specialist manufacturing firms.
In addition, Ulster Bank has removed foreign exchange transaction charges for customers making standard International payments.
And it set up an adverse weather fund of €12 million for businesses adversely affected by the winter’s extreme weather.