ROYAL Bank of Scotland owner NatWest Group has agreed a deal to sell more assets in the Republic of Ireland under the plan to withdraw its Ulster Bank operation from the country.

The group announced that it has entered a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Permanent TSB covering a multi-billion euro loan book and 25 branch locations.

It did not disclose the expected value of the deal but said the consideration is expected to include a stake in Permanent TSB.

Chief executive Alison Rose said the announcement represented a significant update in line with the group’s strategy of making a phased withdrawal from the Republic of Ireland.

NatWest revealed its intention to withdraw Ulster Bank from the Republic of Ireland in February. Ms Rose said then that the decision followed an extensive review, which took account of projected returns on investment.

Ms Rose noted yesterday that taxpayer-owned NatWest Group recently announced the sale of the majority of Ulster Bank’s performing commercial banking business to Allied Irish Bank.

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Ulster Bank has 88 branches in the Republic of Ireland currently. It had around 2,200 staff on a full time equivalent basis at the end of 2020. Some 400 to 500 employees are expected to transfer to Permanent TSB if the deal completes as expected.

The proposed sale covers performing non-tracker mortgages and micro-SME loans, and Ulster Bank in the Republic of Ireland’s asset finance business as well as the 25 branch locations. “The proposed perimeter included approximately €7.6bn (£5.5bn) of gross performing loans as at 31 March 2021,” said NatWest Group. The proposed deal is subject to due diligence and regulatory approval.

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Ms Rose noted: “Our focus remains on supporting our customers and colleagues as we continue our withdrawal from the Republic of Ireland.”

Shares in NatWest Group closed up 4.9p at 199.1p.