Posted on Friday 1 February 2019 by John Mulgrew

KeviN 1

Exiting the EU without a deal is biggest risk to the Northern Ireland economy in a generation, one top bank boss has warned.

Kevin Kingston, chief executive of Danske Bank UK, says that it has “engaged on an individual basis with many” of its business customers in recent months to help them plan.

But he has warned that a “no deal Brexit is the biggest risk to the Northern Ireland economy in a generation”.

Mr Kingston was speaking at the bank posted pre-tax profits of almost £92m, before impairments, for 2018.

“What we have seen is that larger businesses have been taking decisions to try to safeguard their operations, but the smaller businesses are far less prepared, making them the most vulnerable,” he said.

“It is these businesses that are of course the lifeblood of the economy in Northern Ireland.

“At this point, I am gravely concerned about the challenges ahead should a hard Brexit become a reality.”

Danske says while its profit before impairment charges is down 22% that “the underlying performance of the business remains strong”.

It said that 2017 benefited from two one-off credits – sale of the wealth business and pension changes – so a profit fall in 2018 was expected, despite improved income growth.

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