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The sharing face of Irish banks Back  
Contrary to much popular opinion, Irish banks showed their customers a more caring and sharing face than before in the course of 1997, as net interest margins were squeezed further. At least that‚€ôs what can be inferred from the latest Irish banking statistics from Datamonitor, the London-based consultancy.

Seven Irish banks feature in the Datamonitor study: AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, Irish Permanent, First National and TSB and National Irish Bank. Collectively, the seven paid out, in the course of 1997, 53.1 per cent more in interest to their customers than they had done in 1996. On the other hand, the amount of interest income received by the banks increased by only 40.3 per cent over the same period.

The bank where the change was most apparent was Bank of Ireland, where, between 1996 and 1997, gross interest expense surged by 97.4 per cent from IR¬£646 million to IR¬£1,275 million. The corresponding rise for Bank of Ireland‚€ôs gross interest income between 1996 and 1997 was 60.7 per cent. AIB‚€ôs interest income growth between 1996 and 1997 was 33.9 per cent and while the interest received by customers rose by 37.8 per cent. The increase in Ulster Bank‚€ôs gross interest income over the same time was 10.7 per cent, while their expense was augmented by 14.1 per cent.
Changes in the hierarchy only become apparent when net interest as a proportion of operating income is considered. First National tops the table here at 85.9 per cent in 1997, with AIB holding the bottom at 64.6 per cent. Bank of Ireland is second and Ulster Bank third bottom, at 64.9 and 66.1 per cent respectively.

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