Ulster Bank ‘disingenuous’ around sale of €900m portfolio

Brendan Burgess says deals should be struck to help borrowers clear mortgage arrears

Investment adviser Brendan Burgess has accused Ulster Bank of being "disingenuous" about the €900 million worth of home loans it is selling.

Ulster Bank this week confirmed plans to sell 3,600 mortgages with a total of €900 million due for repayment, which the bank said were in serious arrears, triggering fears that a so-called vulture fund would snap up the debts.

Mr Burgess, founder of the Askaboutmoney. com website, argued on Thursday that the bank was wrong to sell this particular group of mortgages.

He said it should be possible to strike deals with the borrowers involved that allow them clear their arrears, which are on average €33,000 each for the 3,200 owner occupiers whose mortgages are on the block.


Mr Burgess also accused Ulster of being disingenuous in the way it presented information about the home loans it plans to sell, as it suggested that owner-occupier loans were 58 months, almost five years, in arrears.

He noted that the average homeowner involved owed 26 months worth of mortgage payments and fell into those arrears at some point in the past five years. And he said they could actually be making repayments at the moment. “These arrears may have started 58 months ago, but it doesn’t mean people are not paying paying now,” Mr Burgess said.

‘Non-performing loans’

An Ulster Bank spokeswoman rejected claims that the lender had been disingenuous.

“The average home loan in this portfolio is €33,000 in arrears, with 26 missed payments, been a non-performing loan for 75 months, has been through five forbearance arrangements and is 58 months in current arrears,” she said.

The bank added that none of the borrowers were in an arrangement designed to aid them in clearing their arrears or dealing with financial difficulties.

“All of these loans are non-performing and were assigned following a concentration of effort with customers in difficulty to ensure that they were given every opportunity to agree a sustainable solution and to remain in a home that they can afford,” the Ulster Bank spokeswoman added.

She noted that not all home loans were sustainable while Ulster Bank was obliged by regulators to cut the number of non-performing loans on its balance sheet.

Irish and European financial services regulators have introduced tougher measures of banks’ solvency, obliging them to reduce the amount of non-performing loans on their books.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas