KBC Ireland posts quarterly loss amid €32m of charges related to exit

Bank’s planned sale of mortgage loan book to Bof I subject of competition review

KBC Bank Ireland posted a net loss of €15 million for the first quarter of the year, driven by €32 million in various charges relating to its planned exit from the Irish market.

The charges include a €24 million impairment on fixed assets in Ireland, the bank's parent, KBC Group, said in its latest quarterly report.

It follows on from KBC Bank Ireland reporting a net loss of €298 million last year, as it booked a raft of costs tied to its planned exit from the Republic.

The Irish unit took a €183 million impairment charge in 2021 against its €10 billion mortgage-focused loan book, after agreeing to sell the bulk of the portfolio to Bank of Ireland and €1.1 billon of non-performing loans to US distressed debt investment firm CarVal Investors.

The CarVal deal closed earlier this year. However, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is carrying out an in-depth assessment of the Bank of Ireland transaction and warned in February that the deal “is likely to give rise to a substantial lessening of competition in relation to the market for the provision of mortgages in the State”.

Meanwhile, Financial Services Union figures urged Central Bank officials during a meeting on Thursday to convene a special taskforce to deal with the exits of KBC Bank Ireland and Ulster Bank, forcing holders of more than one million current and deposit accounts to find alternative homes for their money and banking.

“This is the biggest logistical challenge to face the sector since the introduction of the euro,” said John O’Connell, general secretary of the union, after the meeting. “We need a collaborative approach involving all relevant stakeholders, to protect the vulnerable and to ensure a smooth transition for customers and businesses.”

Movement

The biggest movement of current and deposit accounts in the history of the State comes after the two last overseas-owned banks standing from the financial crisis announced last year that they were leaving the market.

The main concern is around the handling of the opening of current accounts with new providers, together with their attending direct debits, standing orders and regular payments. Even in cases where existing direct debit arrangements can move in theory under a Central Bank switching code, many direct debit originators and receivers will take instructions only directly from their customers, according to banking industry officials.

The Central Bank is meeting the chief executives of all the main retail banks and Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) for a round-table meeting next week.