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Bank's earnings more than halved

IRELAND'S largest bank, Allied Irish Banks PLC, reported a 57-percent fall in its net 2008 profit as it writes off debts in the crumbling property markets of the British Isles.

Allied Irish - which has subsidiaries or stakes in banks in 12 other countries, chiefly Britain, the United States and Poland ?? said its 2008 net profit fell to 885 million euros (US$1.1 billion) from 2.07 billion eurosin 2007.

The bank said that 15.5 billion euros of its loans, 11.7 percent of its total book, faced a risk of future payment failures.

Home owners failing to make mortgage payments fueled sharp rises in both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, where Allied Irish's British subsidiary is an important player, particularly in Northern Ireland.


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