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Irish Life Falls After Banking Losses Widen on Provisions

Irish Life & Permanent Plc, the country’s biggest life insurer, tumbled the most in almost two months in Dublin after losses at its banking unit widened.

Irish Life fell 6 percent to 88 euro cents in Dublin at 5:10 p.m., the biggest decline since Jan. 7, valuing the company at 238.9 million euros ($331.3 million.) Rising provisions pushed the banking unit’s loss to 364 million euros in 2010 from 270 million euros the previous year, the Dublin-based insurer said in a statement today.

Provisions climbed to 420 million euros, up from 376 million euros. The proportion of its Irish mortgage borrowers more than 90 days behind with their payments almost doubled to 6.8 percent in 2010 from 3.9 percent in 2009.

Losses in the banking company should “moderate” this year, David McCarthy, Irish Life’s finance director, told reporters on a call today. The insurer’s life unit may have a slightly better result for the year than 2010, he added.

Irish Life’s full-year operating loss was little changed at 197 million euros. Earnings at the life division climbed 57 percent to 160 million euros, the company said.

Irish Life is the only country’s only lender to escape a government bailout in the past two years. It was ordered 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,” Kevin Murphy, Irish Life’s chief executive officer, said on the conference call.

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