Northern Ireland

Irish bank AIB set to cut 2,000 jobs by 2012

AIB
Image caption AIB plans to cut 2,000 jobs by 2012

Allied Irish Banks (AIB), one of Ireland's "big four" banks, has announced that it is to cut 2,000 jobs during 2011 and 2012.

Massive job cuts had been expected at AIB as the bank is now just over 92% owned by the Irish state.

First Trust, the AIB in Northern Ireland, recorded a loss before tax of £235m (£680m when Nama losses are included).

It has an operating profit before provisions of £30m.

This was significantly down on 2009, primarily a reflection of reduced net interest income (36% lower).

This reduction in net interest income was due to the cost of the ELG scheme and lower deposit margins as a result of competitive pressure for customer deposits in the Northern Ireland market.

Restructure

But it also reflects the maturing of interest rate deposit hedges and, to a lesser extent, the increased cost of funding.

Overall, the AIB has to restructure, sell assets and raise cash to become profitable again.

The bank said that by reducing staff numbers, selling certain businesses and winding down non-core assets, a new 'core' bank would be established.

The bank reported its results for 2010 on Tuesday morning.

Larry Broderick, General Secretary of Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) said AIB staff were in a "profound state of shock" at the scale of the job losses.

He said his members were having to pay the price for the "reckless mismanagement of the bank by an elite group of bosses", many of whom had since left the institution with extremely generous "golden handshakes".

"Sacrificed"

"The ordinary staff in AIB are in no way responsible for the bank's disastrous predicament," he said.

"But it appears that many of them will now be sacrificed in a crude attempt to resolve it."

Mr Broderick said he would be seeking a meeting with the Taoiseach and Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) to discuss the losses.

AIB Group employment numbers worldwide are down to around 15,000 since the sale of its Polish operation, down from 24,000 at the end of 2009.

Of these 15,000, 12,500 are employed in the Republic, 1,400 in First Trust in Northern Ireland, and the remainder, about 1,000, in Great Britain.

A spokesman said that the likelihood was that cuts would be across the board.

AIB said business and market conditions remained challenging and the environment for generating operating income generation was still difficult.

It said the speed of recovery would be heavily influenced by Ireland's economic prospects.

Total losses

This means costs have to be lowered, and staff numbers cut.

For last year, the bank reported a total loss for the group of 10.2bn euros (£9.2bn), compared with 2.3bn euros (£2bn) in 2009.

AIB, once Ireland's largest bank but now 92.8% state-owned, needs another 13.3bn euros (£11.7 bn) bailout after the results of long-awaited stress tests.

The Irish government plans to shrink the state's creaking banking sector from six home-grown lenders to two so-called pillar banks.

AIB and EBS Building Society will merge to form one banking "pillar", while Bank of Ireland will form the second.

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