Stephen Hester: 'orderly'

The chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, which owns Ulster Bank and First Active, has said that it will give struggling owners of commercial properties time to resolve their issues rather than foreclose on them.

Stephen Hester said the British government's asset-protection scheme will allow customers restructure "in an orderly way", and added the group would "play a long game in working with our customers to work through their debt-management issues".

"For some it's probably bad news because instead of vast amount of cheap, repossessed properties providing vulture opportunities for everyone, I suspect this will be a recovery that happens over a longer number of years," he said.

Ulster Bank has backed a number of Irish property developers including Sean Dunne, who financed the purchase of the Jurys hotels in Ballsbridge with loans from the bank.

Ulster Bank has previously said it may take equity stakes in property-development projects it has funded if developers cannot pay back the loans.