KBC announces decision to withdraw from Irish banking market

Multinational bank KBC Group (KBC) said on Friday that its subsidiary KBC Bank Ireland is currently in talks with Bank of Ireland on selling all of its performing loan assets and liabilities to the latter as part of its plan to withdraw from the Irish market.

“We have reached an agreement with Bank of Ireland Group regarding the potential sale to Bank of Ireland Group of substantially all of the performing loan assets and liabilities of KBC Bank Ireland,” KBC Group CEO Johan Thijs was quoted as saying in a statement.

The remaining non-performing loan portfolio of KBC Bank Ireland is also being reviewed for potential divestment, said the statement, adding that “Execution of these two transactions would ultimately result in KBC Group’s withdrawal from the Irish market.”

Irish Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has expressed his regret over the decision in a statement, saying that it’s “a very significant event for the Irish banking sector, its staff, and customers.”

He urged KBC Bank Ireland to quickly conclude the negotiations with Bank of Ireland, one of the largest commercial banks in Ireland, and prioritize the continuation of its financial services for customers and the preservation of jobs.

Peter Roebben, CEO of KBC Bank Ireland, said that the bank “remains committed to offering its quality retail banking and insurance services.”

KBC, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, first entered the Irish market in 1978. KBC Bank Ireland has 12 branches across Ireland with a total number of 1,260 employees, reported local media, quoting bank sources.

KBC is the second bank that has decided to exit from the Irish banking sector since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this year, Ulster Bank, one of major commercial banks in Ireland announced a phased withdrawal from Ireland over the coming years starting from September.