DUBLIN (Reuters) - The Bank of Ireland said on Friday it will earmark 2 billion euros (£1.74 billion) for lending to small and medium businesses that need capital to adapt to the challenges of Britain's departure from the European Union.
Ireland's central bank has said that a disorderly Brexit could have very severe and immediately disruptive effects on almost all areas of Ireland's economy.
According to the central bank's assessment, Britain leaving the European Union without a deal could knock as much as 4 percentage points off the Irish economy's growth rate in its first full year, and up to 6 percentage points over a decade.
"This 2 billon euro fund will provide support to businesses regardless of how the UK exits the EU," said Gavin Kelly, CEO of Retail Ireland at Bank of Ireland.
"Many will need to adapt how they operate as the Brexit outcome becomes clearer. Brexit isn't 'business as usual'," he said.
A spokeswoman for the Bank of Ireland said the fund is for Brexit-related lending and will also support businesses that have deferred Brexit plans because of the heightened uncertainty in the market because of the Brexit negotiations.
"Some of these businesses have no dealings with or through the UK, but have decided to wait until outcome is known to proceed with their plans."
(Reporting by Graham Fahy; Editing by Hugh Lawson)