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Irish Life 2010 Bank Losses Rise Offsets Life Improvement

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March 2 (Bloomberg) -- Irish Life & Permanent Plc said its full-year operating loss was little changed at 197 million euros ($271 million) as a profit increase at its life business was offset by a widening deficit in its banking unit.

Profit at the life division climbed 57 percent to 160 million euros, the country’s largest life assurance company said in a statement today. The banking unit’s loss swelled 36 percent to 364 million euros on higher impairments. The division set aside 420 million euros for soured loans in 2010, up from 376 million euros a year earlier.

Irish Life, based in Dublin, is the nation’s only government-guaranteed lender not to be bailed out over the past two years. It was told by the central bank last year to raise an additional 243 million euros of capital by the end of May. The central bank is stress testing Irish lenders for further loan losses by the end of March, with the focus on mortgage impairments.

Capital and liquidity reviews by the central bank will “determine what is required of the bank in terms of deleveraging and capital adequacy and create a sustainable business going forward,” said Kevin Murphy, Irish Life’s chief executive officer.

The company said the share of its Irish home borrowers who are more than 90 days behind in payments rose to 6.8 percent in 2010 from 3.9 percent in 2009.

Losses in the banking company should “moderate” this year, while the outcome in the life unit may be slightly better compared with 2010, David McCarthy, Irish Life’s finance director, said on a call with reporters.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Brennan in Dublin at jbrennan29@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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