The bank that liked to say yes too much

From abetting Sean Dunne’s doomed Ballsbridge project to offering 100 per cent mortgages to homebuyers, Ulster Bank racked up losses of €15 billion on its property loans. Now it is bidding farewell to the Irish market

21st February, 2021
The bank that liked to say yes too much
Ulster Bank HQ in Belfast: the bank is withdrawing from Ireland on a phased basis over a number of years Picture: PA

In 2006, the developer Sean Dunne pulled off what seemed like the greatest deal of the Celtic Tiger years, by outbidding some of the biggest names in the property industry to secure the Jurys Hotel site in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

Dunne’s plan was to rebuild it as the Knightsbridge of Dublin – and to fund the development, he needed cash. Like most developers, he existed by borrowing from the banks and for the Ballsbridge site he would...

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