Statement – KBC Ireland and Bank of Ireland

16 April 2021 Press Release

Central Bank of Ireland

The Central Bank notes the announcement by KBC Ireland (KBCI) and Bank of Ireland (BOI) to enter into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding related to BOI’s proposed purchase of aspects of KBCI’s operations in Ireland.

There are no changes to the services that either bank is providing today. The announced discussions will take a period of time to conclude and further information will be shared with customers as those talks progress.

The Central Bank’s focus is to serve the public interest by safeguarding monetary and financial stability and working to ensure that the financial system operates in the best interests of consumers and the wider economy.

While decisions related to the strategic direction and business model of regulated firms are for the boards of those firms, they are obliged to consider all of the relevant risks and required to ensure compliance with applicable regulatory requirements at all times.

Ed Sibley, Deputy Governor, Prudential Regulation at the Central Bank stated:

“First and foremost, customers do not need to take any action. There are no immediate changes to the services the banks are providing today, nor the regulatory protections in place for their customers.

“The Central Bank’s supervision of KBCI and BoI remains focused on ensuring that affected customers are protected and treated fairly and that the banks are operating safely and soundly.

“We do understand that there will be concerns that this transaction, if it goes ahead, will result in a further reduction in the level of competition in the Irish retail banking sector, and a reduction in choice for consumers.

“Competition issues are primarily a matter for the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. However, competitive pressures can clearly have an effect on the functioning of the financial system and the achievement of the Central Bank’s aim for it to sustainably serve the needs of the people and businesses of Ireland.

“This aim and consideration of the current and future financial services needs of businesses, households and individuals are at the forefront of our approach to regulating and supervising banks and other financial services providers (from payment institutions to credit unions) and our wider engagement with all relevant stakeholders.”

Notes

Protections in place for consumers:

Provision 3.11 of the Consumer Protection Code 2012 requires that a regulated entity that intends to cease operating, merge with another, or to transfer all or part of its regulated activities to another regulated entity must:

  • provide affected consumers with at least two months’ notice to enable them to make alternative arrangements if they so wish;
  • ensure all outstanding business is properly completed prior to any transfer, merger or cessation of operations; or, in the case of a transfer or merger, inform customers as to how continuity of service will be provided following a transfer or merger; and
  • in the case of a merger or transfer of regulated activities, inform customers that their details are being transferred to the other regulated entity, if that is the case.

In relation to loans, where they are sold or transferred to another regulated entity, the consumer protections in place for borrowers will not change and all regulatory protections remain in place. The protections that were available to borrowers prior to the transaction continue to be in place with the new loan owner. The Central Bank has clearly communicated its expectations of firms in respect of loan sales, securitisations and transfers.