Irish bank AIB profits fell in the first half of the year from a year earlier as net interest margin dropped slightly and costs rose. Pre-exceptional profit before tax fell to €567m in the first half, that compared with a pre-tax profit of €762m a year earlier as net interest margin slipped to 2.46% from 2.50%. Operating expenses rose 6% to €744m for the half from a year earlier, which the company blamed on wage inflation, increased depreciation, the elevated cost of its distressed loan work-out unit and the cost of delivering the many requirements needed to meet heightened regulatory oversight and EU wide developments such as Open Banking. Total new lending in H1 2019 grew 8% to €6.0bn, up from €5.5bn a year earlier and new mortgage lending in Ireland grew by 8% to €1.3bn. In the first half of 2019, the performing loan book (gross) increased by €1.2bn to €58bn, with NPEs falling by 22% from €6.1bn to €4.7bn. 'We have had a solid first half of 2019 and are well positioned, despite rising uncertainty, for the remainder of the year. We are committed to implementing a proven strategy, with a relentless focus on Customer First, by delivering a simple and efficient business model and growing the balance sheet in a sustainable manner while normalising NPEs,' the company said. At 9:38am: (LON:AIBG) AIB Group Plc share price was -0.17p at 3.49p
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