The Deputy will be aware that as Minister for Finance I have no role in the commercial decisions made by any bank in the State. This includes banks in which the State has a shareholding.
Decisions in this regard are the sole responsibility of the board and management of the banks, which must be run on an independent and commercial basis. The independence of banks in which the State has a shareholding is protected by Relationship Frameworks which are legally binding documents that cannot be changed unilaterally. These frameworks, which are publicly available, were insisted upon by the European Commission to protect competition in the Irish market. The AIB Relationship Framework can be found on my department's website.
In December 2020, AIB announced a revised three year strategy against the backdrop of three accelerated trends: digitalisation, ways of working and sustainability.
As part of this revised strategy, the bank is making changes to its AIB UK business model, that include the withdrawal from SME banking in Great Britain to focus on its corporate business, particularly in renewables, infrastructure, health and manufacturing. The bank will continue to provide Asset Finance, Invoice Discounting and Merchant Services to all business customers.
The bank has contacted its customers who are impacted by this and has established a dedicated customer helpline to provide further help and advice. If a customer is experiencing difficulty in securing another banking provider, its staff are available to assist on an individual basis.