Business

Danske posts £56.6m first half profits as lending jumps by 8 per cent

Danske Bank in Northern Ireland has reported a pre-tax profit of £56.5m in the first half of this year
Gary McDonald Business Editor

DANSKE Bank in Northern Ireland has reported pre-tax profits of £56.5 million for the January-June period.

That's a 12 per cent drop on the first half of last year, when Danske posted £64.5m in profits. But chief executive Kevin Kingston insists the underlying performance of the bank remains strong, with lending up 8 per cent year-on-year.

Over the period Danske also reported a net credit in loan impairments of £15.2m, down from £16.5m in 2016, which it says reflects "a continuing recovery in property values" and in the trading results of the bank’s business customers.

And following a record year for its mortgage business in 2016, Danske was still able to report that new mortgage lending approvals were up 7 per cent year on year.

Danske - which operates 44 branches and three regional business centres, employing around 1,400 staff - said the reduction in profit before tax reflects the adverse impact of the lower Bank of England base rate on income, as well as higher operating expenses.

However, the bank said its core underlying business continues to perform well as evidenced by strong growth in both customer lending and deposit volumes.

Last month Danske Bank also integrated Apple Pay after demand from customers for us to do so.

"It has proved a great addition to our already strong digital offering," Mr Kingston said.

“Apple Pay is just the first of several new digital enhancements that we plan to introduce over the next year to further improve customer experience.

“It has also been an important first half of the year in terms of our approach to supporting small business customers.

"We have completed a programme of decentralising our small business advisers and locating them in key individual branches throughout Northern Ireland. This decision was taken as a result of strong feedback from small businesses and it will allow our people to be more accessible and closer to customers.

"These changes have already made a tangible impact, with lending to small businesses up 32 per cent year-on-year and 37 new small business relationships being established every week."

New lending to medium to larger-sized businesses was up 9 per cent over the same period in 2016, though total income remained broadly flat as low interest rates continue to impede growth.

Mr Kingston added: “Our focus for the second half of 2017 remains firmly on supporting our customers - whether that be by making their personal banking easier for them, helping them with personal loans or mortgages, or assisting them in taking their businesses to the next level.”

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