Ulster Bank to initiate €850m commercial property portfolio sale

Project Button is the first salvo in the disposal of about €11 billion of Ulster Bank’s assets

There are fears among bank staff that significant job losses could be on the way at Ulster Bank

There are fears among bank staff that significant job losses could be on the way at Ulster Bank

 

Ulster Bank will this week kick off the sale process for an €850 million portfolio of commercial property loans known within the bank as Project Button.

It is the first salvo in the disposal of about £9 billion (€11 billion) of Ulster Bank’s assets, which is to be completed in less than three years.

Project Buttonis being handled by Eastdil Secured, a property specialist of the US institution Wells Fargo, and contains the loans of a small number of some of the bank’s largest property clients, according to several sources.


‘Highest quality’
One source said Project Button related to some of the bank’s “highest quality” commercial property loans.

It was reported last weekend that Ulster is preparing to sell off loans associated with Dundrum Town centre developer Joe O’Reilly, as well as the Cosgrave property group.

The move to begin selling off some of Ulster bank’s commercial loan book comes as speculation mounted yesterday that its parent Royal Bank of Scotland is preparing to axe about 30,000 workers.

The Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) said yesterday that Ulster Bank staff were “braced for a major announcement” from RBS.

There are fears among bank staff that significant job losses could be on the way at Ulster Bank, as well as a series of branch closures.


Agreed procedures
The IBOA said yesterday that Ross McEwan, the RBS chief executive, had written to it to confirm that any industrial relations issues involving Ulster Bank staff would be dealt with using agreed procedures.

“The prospect of further cuts to employment in Ulster Bank – on top of the 1,600 jobs already lost in the Bank in the last four years – is a source of renewed fear and anxiety for these workers who had believed that the worst of the restructuring was behind them,” said Larry Broderick, IBOA chief executive.

Mr McEwan yesterday said there would be no jobs cuts announced on Thursday when the bank releases its results.