KBC will decide on future of Irish banking subsidiary next year

RTÉ reports KBC may face tracker complaints, but bank refuses to comment

The strategic review of KBC Bank Ireland remains "ongoing" and its future might not be decided until the early part of 2017, according to the head of the Dublin-based subsidiary.

"We expect a completion [of the review] towards the year end, perhaps early 2017 but the bulk of the work will be done in the course of 2016," Wim Verbraeken, chief executive of KBC Bank Ireland told The Irish Times.

“I want to reiterate the fact as clearly stated by KBC [group] that the first priority option is to grow an organically profitable bank in Ireland, [and] if possible to build a captive bank insurance group in Ireland because that is the calling of the group in its core market.

“It’s only if these options would fail that they would consider an exit of a profitable bank. The three options do not have equal standing.”


In its presentation to analysts, the Belgian group reiterated previous comments about Ireland, stating that having returned to profit here, “all available options (organically grow a profitable retail bank, build a captive bank insurance group or sell a profitable bank) will be considered”.

Separately it was reported last night that about 100 customers of KBC claim they were wrongly moved off tracker rates. RTÉ reported that an adviser, Padraic Kissane, planned to send a file to the Central Bank. KBC said last night that it was progressing with an overall tracker review process as requested by the Central Bank of Ireland, which has asked all the banks to examine their tracker books following revelations at other banks. Deloitte are assisting KCB with this overall review. KBC would not comment on the RTÉ report.

Meanwhile Mr Verbraeken said it was “sticking” to its day job of “building a profitable retail bank” here.

“We are very focused on our day to day job where we have great opportunity and great challenges,” he said, adding that KBC has invested €100 million in opening 15 retail hubs and building out its digital capability in the past few years.

KBC Bank Ireland made a profit of €34.2 million in Ireland in the first quarter of this year, after tax and impairment charges. This compared with a profit of €16.2 million for the same period of 2015.

The Irish bank had a loan-loss provision release of €3.4 million in the first quarter compared with a charge of €7.4 million a year earlier.

The bank said it gained 16,800 new customer accounts in the quarter and had a tier 1 capital ratio of 13.2 per cent.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times