DUBLIN Feb 24 Bank of Ireland expects
to pay its first dividend in a decade in the first half of 2018,
a year later than initially hoped as it awaits further clarity
on Britain's vote to leave the European Union, it said on
Ireland's largest bank by assets outlined provisional plans
to reinstate dividends alongside its full-year results for 2016
a year ago but warned in July that external factors, including
Brexit, could force a delay.
The bank also said on Friday it wanted to see recent bond
market-led improvements in its pension deficit sustained. Its
initial plan would have made it the first domestic Irish lender
to resume dividend payments since the financial crash.
"From a Brexit point of view, we haven't seen any material
negative impacts, other that the translation impact on our
profits from our UK business," Bank of Ireland Chief Executive
Richie Boucher told Reuters in a telephone interview, describing
the dividend decision as a finely balanced call.
"The pension deficit did stabilise. We don't expect the same
volatility in bond yields as we had in the first half of last
year but we do want to make sure that continues to be the case.
It's probably just a bit of a caution on the bond yield issue."
The bank, which was freed up to pay dividends again last
year under the terms of its state bailout, reiterated that it
would start at a modest level before moving steadily towards a
payout ratio of about 50 percent of sustainable earnings.
The bank reported an underlying full-year pretax profit of
1.07 billion euro ($1.1 billion) versus 1.2 billion euros a year
($1 = 0.9447 euros)
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by David Clarke)