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BoI says approved E2.1bn in SME loans

Monday, July 21 11:15:05

Bank of Ireland has announced new credit approvals to SMEs for the first half of 2014 of around E2.1 billion, up 7pc on the same period last year.

The E2.1 billion figure includes new and increased lending, and does not include restructures.

Bank of Ireland said it has approved over 85pc of credit applications from SMEs in the year to end June, with increased activity evident in the key Motor, Agri and Property sectors.

The Agri sector in particular has been performing strongly as it prepare for the abolition of milk quotas in April of next year. The Bank has seen a steady increase in both applications and approvals from this sector, the bank said.

Bank of Ireland also reported that there has been a strong uplift in the overall motor market, with growth of 28pc in the first half of the year. New business in the commercial motor market has grown strongly in the first six months of 2014 compared with 2013, with the overall market for Light Commercial and Heavy Commercial vehicles up by 37pc and 42pc respectively on the same period last year. The strong performance in the year to date in the motor market, whilst coming from a low base, tends to be a lead indicator and reflects the re-emergence of consumer and business confidence. The Bank is the largest provider of forecourt finance in the Irish market with 14 franchise partnerships.

On the back of increased activity in 2013 in the commercial property market, the bank said it has experienced an increase in property related approvals, with this sector of the market expected to perform strongly as the year progresses. While yields are compressing there remains strong demand for well located, good quality properties.

Commenting Michael Lauhoff, Head of Business Banking Growth, Bank of Ireland said: "We are seeing some very encouraging signs of increased demand from our business customers. Whilst some of this activity can be attributed to some competitors leaving the market, we are also seeing some positive signs of renewed investment in key sectors of the economy. The re-emergence of consumer and business confidence, evidenced by the number of new cars on the roads in the first half of the year, should drive further growth for the remainder of the year."

"Based on a detailed analysis of the Central Bank's sectoral breakdown of lending, we continue to provide in excess of 50pc of the new non property lending to SMEs and to the Agri sector. Land acquisition, milking parlour investment and increased stocking requirements are the main drivers of growth from the Agri sector. We would anticipate that the re-emergence of consumer and business confidence bodes well for an increase in the level of investment activity for the remainder of the year."

For more visit: www.businessworld.ie