Allied Irish returns to operating profit

STATE-owned Allied Irish Banks (AIB) more than halved its losses in 2013, as costcutting helped it to return to underlying operating profit.

The bank, bailed out by the Irish taxpayer after the 2008 financial crisis, said yesterday that, excluding a provision of €1.9 billion (£1.6bn) for bad and doubtful debts, it made an operating profit of €445 million (£366m).

The loan impairments figure was down a quarter on the previous 12 months in what AIB chief executive David Duffy said had been a year of steady progress.

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AIB said profit margins had improved due to the costcutting, including shedding almost one in five staff. “We remain focused on sustainable growth and returning to profitability during 2014,” Duffy commented.

“Notwithstanding the ongoing challenges facing the bank, we are more optimistic for the outlook of both the bank and the Irish econonmy.”

The chief executive said he did not think AIB would need further capital as a result of the regulatory European balance sheet stress tests due later this year.