Allied Irish Banks posts health profits

Irish banking giant Allied Irish Banks (AIB) has reported a 15 per cent increase in pre-tax profit for 2005, in excess of analysts' expectations.

The group, the largest listed firm in the Republic of Ireland, announced that profits for last year soared to €1.7 billion, from €1.3 billion in 2004, with strong growth in all markets.

The Dublin-based bank posted group operating income of just under €3.65 billion. Profits from its Irish operations rose by 24 per cent to €779 million.

AIB's capital markets division, which includes corporate and investment banking, saw profits increase by 27 per cent to €403 million.

The company reported that its 2005 cost to income ratio dipped by 2.5 percentage points to 55.2 per cent.

AIB chief executive Eugene Sheehy said in a statement: "Our 2005 performance reflects quality growth in all our main franchises. Strong demand continues to drive momentum and underpins our confidence in the outlook for 2006 and beyond."

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