Profits rise at ICC Bank, major review planned


A major restructuring will be undertaken at ICC Bank in the summer with the State-owned institution suggesting it will be the end of the year before it is in shape to consider a strategic alliance or trade sale.

Announcing a 20 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £25.2 million (#32 million) in 1999, ICC Bank chairman Mr Phil Flynn said its entire operations were being reviewed to consider how the bank can be made more profitable.

Mr Flynn said that the bank was now firmly focused on the future. He refused to outline any specific options which might be considered as part of the restructuring but stressed ICC would focus on maximising its presence in the small business lending market and in the venture capital sector.

The chairman said the bank had achieved a very strong performance during a year where huge resources were being deployed in the sale process. The bank has disclosed that costs associated with the sale came to £2 million in 1999. Around £1 million was incurred through the putting in place of stand-by funding for the bank while its corporate and legal advisers fees came to another £1 million.

Its core banking and venture capital operations had a good year. Loans to customers increased by 27 per cent to £1.8 billion. On the venture capital side, the bank showed unrealised gains on its investments grew to £29.3 million. A record £27.5 million in new venture capital was also completed during the 12 months, with 47 per cent to firms in the high-tech sector. Some 31 per cent of ICC's total venture capital portfolio is now in the high growth high technology sector.

The bank's costs also improved with its cost to income ratio falling from 45.4 per cent to 44.5 per cent. Based on its full-year performance, ICC will pay a dividend of £4.5 million to the Government, a 25 per cent increase on 1998.