Bank of Ireland has provided €1.9bn in new lending to the SME sector over the first six months of the year — an 18% increase on the same period in 2012.
The bank says it is approving 84% of the 1,000 loan applications it receives every week.
“The provision of new and increased credit is a vital component of the bank’s strategy for this sector as we grow our revenues through providing products and services which SME businesses and their owners want and need. “While we clearly have more to do, these figures show that we are making progress,” said director of business banking, Mark Cunningham.
“According to our own internal analysis of Central Bank data, we are providing almost 50% of all non -property lending to SMEs in Ireland.
“The momentum we have developed since the fourth quarter of 2012 is very encouraging and reflects a sustained effort on the part of the bank and signs of increased demand from SMEs.”
The biggest demand for credit came from the agriculture sector, particularly the funding of land purchases. There was also an up-tick in demand from the car trade, which is up 20% compared with 2012 levels, said Bank of Ireland. Manufacturing and hospitality also saw an increase in demand.
“Our growth objectives for the SME sector are also very important in the context of the overall economy, given the vital role which SMEs are playing in the recovery and growth of the domestic economy,” said Mr Cunningham.
“Our focus for the second half of 2013 is to build on the momentum we have achieved in our business in the first half and have been seeing in the domestic economy as a whole.”
Overall, the flow of credit to the Irish SME sector remains constrained as the banks continue to deleverage and maintain their capital levels. The ECB has been looking at ways to develop the SME securitisation market.