IFA has met with senior Ulster Bank Executive staff in response to the bank’s sudden announcement that it plans to dispose of loans in its specialist loans arrears unit to undisclosed third parties.
Ulster Bank has given customers in debt management 30 days from the date of contact via telephone call, to refinance their loans with another lender or potentially face a loan sale to a third party investor – a situation the IFA describes as totally unacceptable.
IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin, said, “IFA met with Ulster Banks senior management to demand clarity for affected farmer customers and to voice farmer concerns. Ulster Bank outlined that 75% of the potential loan book sale would comprise loans seriously impaired and in debt recovery proceedings. The remaining 25% of loans are in a debt management unit which contains a wide range of circumstances.”
IFA Farm Business Chairman Tom Doyle said, “It is completely unacceptable that farmer customers who have engaged constructively to resolve their financial difficulties would be treated in this manner. Ulster Bank has acknowledged the need to seriously reassess those loans and make sure no loan is sold where there are genuine borrowers who are making serious efforts to meet repayments.”
IFA has expressed dissatisfaction at the poor communication from Ulster Bank to date and rejected the unworkable 30 day refinancing deadline. Jer Bergin commented, “A single phone call with no written communication and very little background information has created real unease among Ulster Bank customers. IFA rejects the bank’s strategy of packaging up farm loans with good farm asset security to make a more saleable loan portfolio for vulture funds.”
Tom Doyle concluded, “There is now a real onus on Ulster bank to work, and communicate professionally, with this group of customers. Ulster bank has committed to engaging with the IFA and the bank is due to come back to us with further detailed information and proposals in response to our concerns”.