Bank of Ireland (BKIR) has confirmed that it has met and expects to exceed its €3.5bn SME lending target for 2012.
According to the bank, the figure represents its approvals for new and increased credit facilities for businesses and farmers. It represents a 16% increase in approvals year to date compared with 2011 as a result of increased demand from ‘several sectors’, in particular healthcare, manufacturing and hospitality, while Agri lending has also remained strong. Banks can include restructuring existing facilities towards their targets, but BKIR has confirmed that its figures exclude credit approved for restructuring.
Central Bank (CB) statistics suggest core (excluding real estate and financial intermediation) credit to SMEs was still shrinking in Q3 2012, albeit modestly. Core loans stood at €26.3bn (real estate related loans were a further €33.5bn) compared with €26.6bn at end-June or €26.2bn at end-September 2011. The CB data suggest overall gross new advances in the first nine months of 2012 were just €1.3bn (€1.8bn including real estate). However, the statement from the bank is encouraging and suggests that we should begin to see a pick-up in the CB figures in the coming quarters.