NAB sells Irish banks to the Danes

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The Independent Online

National Australia Bank has sold its two Irish units to Danske Bank, Denmark's largest bank, in an all-cash deal worth £967m.

National Australia Bank has sold its two Irish units to Danske Bank, Denmark's largest bank, in an all-cash deal worth £967m.

Danske said the acquisition of National Irish Bank and Northern Bank would give it a foothold in the European Union's best-performing economy. It took National Australia Bank several months to find a buyer for both National Irish Bank, which operates in the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Bank in Northern Ireland. HBOS terminated talks with National Australia Bank several weeks ago after failing to agree on a price.

Peter Straarup, Danske's chief executive, said the acquisition reflected the strategy to expand the retail business outside Denmark. He added: "Danske Bank has a very strong, clear focus on retail banking via branch networks. This is also the core competency of Northern Bank and National Irish Bank."

Danske plans to expand National Irish Bank's network of 59 branches with 800 employees. Analysts said the Danish bank would seek a bigger slice of the mortgage market in Ireland, where property prices have soared in recent years. Northern Bank has 95 branches and more than 2,000 staff.

Danske expects to cut costs at both banks by about 15 per cent over the next three years. The two banks will continue under local management.

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