Regulator clears AIB/Ulster bank deal, sounds competition warning

·1-min read
Signage is seen outside a branch of the Ulster Bank in Dublin, Ireland

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland's competition regulator on Thursday cleared Allied Irish Banks' (AIB) acquisition of 4.2 billion euros ($4.4 billion) worth of commercial loans from NatWest Group's departing Ulster Bank unit.

However the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission expressed concerns that Ulster Bank's exit means that only two retail banks will remain in Ireland to serve the needs of firms with turnover above 2 million euros.

Belgium's KBC followed NatWest in announcing its departure from the Irish market last year. It agreed to sell most of its performing assets, chiefly mortgage loans, to AIB's main rival Bank of Ireland for 5 billion euros.

($1 = 0.9517 euros)

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin)

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