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Is Ulster Bank gearing up to leave the Republic?

THERE are growing fears that Ulster Bank is positioning itself to eventually exit the Republic of Ireland market after admitting it may seek to be regulated in the UK and is planning to shut some branches here.

Ulster Bank has strongly denied that the developments are part of a move out of the Republic, but the news comes at a time when the operations here are under unprecedented pressure.

In May, the chairman of RBS, the UK state-owned bank that owns Ulster Bank, said the Irish unit was the group’s “single biggest headache”.

RBS has had to sink £13bn (€16.5bn) of UK taxpayers’ money into the Irish unit since the start of the crisis to cope with losses on Irish loans. That is not far short of the €20.7bn cost of the Irish bailout of AIB, even though Ulster Bank is less significant to the UK authorities that AIB is to Ireland.


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