Posted on Thursday 2 May 2013 by Ulster Business
The bank, part of the Copenhagen-headquartered Danske Bank Group, said the significant improvement reflected a lower level of impairments, as well as improved underlying performance.
When provisions for bad loans were removed from the figures, Danske made an operating profit of £15.3m for the quarter, a 2% increase on the same period last year.
That slight improvement was driven by a 4% reduction in costs (to £31.7m), with income actually decreasing by 2% (to £47m) because of what the bank described as "continued low demand for business lending".
While impairment charges for the period were 2% lower than last year at £16.2m, Danske said they "remain elevated" because the bank is continuing to make a "cautious assessment" of the valuation of impaired assets in the current depressed property market.
Commenting on the results, Head of Danske Bank UK and Ireland Gerry Mallon (pictured) said: "I am very pleased with our financial results to the end of March, our first full quarter trading under the Danske Bank name. Property related impairment charges have fallen again but do continue to weigh on our overall performance along with low interest rates and low economic growth. The aspects of our performance that are within our control are all moving in the right direction, and we remain on course to shortly achieve our desired level of profitability."
Mr Mallon said Danske had attracted new mortgage customers and that its mobile and online services were continuing to grow in popularity with customers.
"As we see these changing consumer behaviours, we must continue to respond and adapt the services we provide. Sometimes this means making difficult decisions and since February we have announced that six branches are to close," he said.
"Although the confidence that is important to economic recovery remains low for consumers and businesses, there are more signs for encouragement in 2013 than we have seen in a long time," Mr Mallon added.
"With the strength of Danske Bank Group behind us, sustained investment in modern banking channels, a strong team with the appetite and capacity to support customers and attract new ones, I am confident that we will continue to build on the good start we have made in the first quarter of the year."