First Trust loses £680m amid AIB job fears

By Kevin Magee
BBC News

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

First Trust Bank lost £680m last year amid growing concerns that staff could be included in a cull of 2,000 workers.

The bank's parent, the Dublin-based AIB group, is cutting 2,000 posts by the end of next year.

AIB executive chairman David Hodgkinson warned the job losses would "spread widely across the group".

The Irish Bank Officials Association said it fears the job losses could extend to First Trust staff in Northern Ireland.

"We are worried that FTB staff will be included in this 2,000 figure. It is part of our concern that First Trust too will be hit," IBOA official Seamas Shiels said.

"The difficulty is that the bank has made an announcement that there will be at least 2,000 job losses.

"They have given no detail and this has raised the anxiety levels of staff that are already very high. We know there will be substantial redundancies, but we don't know where."

The First Trust has 48 high street branches in Northern Ireland, employing 1,300 staff, but the AIB has said branch closures will be avoided.

"In some cases branch staff will have to slim down, but we are not looking at branch closure programmes," AIB's David Hodgkinson said.

The AIB group made an overall loss of £9.2bn last year. The job losses will result from the necessity to cut costs, it says.

First Trust's losses of £680m included £445m transferred to the National Asset Management Agency, the Republic's body that is taking over property loans to help shore up the banking sector.

The AIB's operations in Great Britain made an additional loss of £501m - again with major transfers (£374m) to NAMA.

Overall the AIB group - the owners of the First Trust - made a loss of £9.2bn.

The AIB is more than 93% owned by the Irish state following a series of bailouts.