Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD has this morning commented on the MoU signed between Permanent TSB, NatWest and Ulster Bank which would see PTSB acquiring €7.6 billion in assets, including a portion of its loan book and branch network.
The Donegal TD has welcomed the additional scale this transaction would provide Permanent TSB, supporting competition in a market that would otherwise have become more concentrated with negative consequences for consumers.
While welcoming this announcement, Teachta Doherty has also raised concerns regarding the status of mortgage loans not included in the transaction and the future of Ulster Bank’s remaining branch network.
Teachta Doherty said:
“The announcement of Ulster Bank’s exit from the market was a hammer blow for workers, customers and the banking sector.
“Today’s announcement that a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between Permanent TSB and NatWest for the acquisition of €7.6 billion of assets from Ulster Bank, including portions of its SME and mortgage loan book, is a welcome development that mitigates many of the risks posed by Ulster Bank’s withdrawal.
“If concluded, this transaction would provide Permanent TSB with additional scale, supporting competition in what would otherwise have been a virtual duopoly in the market between AIB and Bank of Ireland.
“Such a scenario would have applied upward pressure on interest rates and reduced credit availability for consumers.
“Today’s announcement, if followed by a successful transaction, would mitigate against these risks.
“While welcoming the development in this regards, we also have concerns about the fate of loan book that will not form a part of this MoU.
“In particular, we are concerned about the status and future of the non-performing mortgage loans that will not be included in this transaction.
“Furthermore, given the tracker mortgage loan book will not form a part of today’s announced agreement, Sinn Féin would urge all of these customers not to switch their mortgage, as to do so would result in customers losing their tracker rate.
“Finally, while the agreement will involve the acquisition of 25 branches by Permanent TSB, the future of Ulster Bank’s remaining 63 branches remains in doubt, with closures in 2022 likely.
“This follows announcements of branch closures by AIB and Bank of Ireland in recent weeks and months, and is a further blow to the provision of financial services in towns and communities across the State.
“Sinn Féin have called for a moratorium for the remainder of the pandemic and repeat our calls for the establishment of a ‘Future of Banking Forum’, as supported by the Financial Services Union and Finance Committee, to discuss the issues affecting the sector and map out a sustainable future for communities, its customers and its staff.”