KBC’s Irish staff face nail-biting wait to learn their fate

FSU urges bank’s CEO to end ‘uncertainty’ over whether Irish operation will be sold

Larry Broderick, general secretary of the Financial Services Union, said there was “significant concern” among KBC staff in Ireland that its parent could sell the operation here. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The head of the Financial Services Union (FSU) has written to the chief executive of KBC Bank Ireland to express its concern about the possible outcome of a strategic review, which is due to be announced by its Belgian parent when it publishes its latest results on February 9th.

Larry Broderick, general secretary of the FSU, said there was "significant concern" among KBC staff in Ireland that its parent could sell the operation here.

“Our members in KBC are concerned about their jobs and their future roles,” he said. “This uncertainty cannot be allowed to hang over staff for the next month. I have written to the chief executive of KBC Ireland [Wim Verbraeken] expressing the concerns of KBC bank staff.”

Mr Broderick urged KBC to put in place a “mechanism so that the views of staff have a voice” before the bank’s decision is made public.




Viviane Huybrecht

, the head of corporate communications and a spokeswoman for

KBC Group

, said its obligations as a listed company meant staff would be informed at the same time as all other stakeholders when it publishes its financial results next month.

Ms Huybrecht also noted that KBC was non-union in Ireland and that the FSU has no collective bargaining rights with the bank, even though some staff are members of the union.

KBC has indicated that it is considering three options for its Irish subsidiary: organically grow the retail bank; build a captive bank insurance group; or sell the unit.

Mr Broderick has also written to the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, to bring some influence to bear on KBC's decision.

“The Irish banking sector will not be served by the exit of another significant player and this view needs to be communicated to KBC,” Mr Broderick said.

‘Small portfolio’

Separately, KBC has confirmed that it sold “a small portfolio” of loans in Ireland related to unsecured residual mortgage balances. The loans relate to a shortfall arising when a property was sold, but for not enough to pay off the full mortgage outstanding.

The bank would not indicate the value of the portfolio, or the discount, if any, applied to the loans.

“KBC has notified affected customers, and their existing contractual rights and protections will transfer with the sale,” the bank said.

It's understood the loans were acquired by US-owned debt recovery company Cabot Asset Purchases (Ireland), a part of the Nasdaq-listed distressed debt specialist Encore.

Cabot bought large tranches of property-related debts from Ulster Bank in 2015. A recent Irish Times analysis of court records showed that Cabot was the third most active seeker of summary judgments.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan is a writer specialising in personal finance and is the Home & Design Editor of The Irish Times