Bank of Ireland cuts losses in H1

AP News
Posted: Aug 10, 2011 4:34 AM
Bank of Ireland cuts losses in H1

Bank of Ireland _ the only major Irish lender to avoid state control _ saw its losses narrowed in the first half of the year, and said it is on track to meet its targets for the year.

The bank said Wednesday underlying first half losses before tax were euro723 million ($1.04 billion), down from a loss of euro1.32 billion the year before. It said its losses narrowed primarily because of reduced charges on bad loans.

Ireland's banks helped trigger the country's debt crisis through extravagant lending, particularly in the property market. Most of the banks are under some form of state control _ Bank of Ireland is the one that has maintained the highest degree of independence.

The bank said in its statement that Ireland's economy was still weak, with low levels of domestic investment, fragile consumer sentiment and high unemployment. It added that the property market in Ireland was still stagnant.

Chief executive Richie Boucher said the bank is on course to meet its strategic and financial targets in the second half of the year despite "challenging" conditions.

Bank of Ireland shares, which are traded in London and Dublin, rose 3 percent to euro0.1.