Staff seek clarity on future of Ulster Bank

KKR or Apollo said to be circling lender

IBOA general secretary Larry Broderick urged Ulster Bank management to suspend its latest round of branch closures until the questions around the bank’s future were resolved. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

IBOA general secretary Larry Broderick urged Ulster Bank management to suspend its latest round of branch closures until the questions around the bank’s future were resolved. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 01:00

The union representing Ulster Bank staff wants its owner and management to clarify their plans for the lender’s future following reports that a US private equity fund is poised to buy it.

A report yesterday stated that its owner, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), was considering a bid ranging between €500 million and €2.5 billion for its Republic of Ireland business from one of two US private equity firms, KKR or Apollo.

The deal is said to require the British government-controlled RBS to take on some of Ulster Bank’s distressed assets and offer indemnity against future losses.

Its current management, led by chief executive Jim Brown, would stay put, while another RBS subsidiary, Natwest, would absorb the Northern Irish operation.

Reacting to the news, the Irish Bank Officials’ Association (IBOA), which represents most of Ulster Bank’s staff, said it was seeking clarification on the finance institution’s future from senior management and RBS.

Sapping morale

IBOA general secretary Larry Broderick warned that the continuing speculation about the bank was sapping morale from staff already worried about the implications of a restructuring plan that has been under discussion for three months.

He added that as neither the senior management of Ulster nor RBS had offered to clarify any of the speculation during talks with the union, the IBOA had written to group chief executive Ross McEwan and the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, expressing concern about the information vacuum.

He urged management to suspend its latest round of branch closures until the questions around the bank’s future were resolved.

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