Bank of Ireland held up the prospect of a return to profits on Friday when it reported a big cut in first-half losses. The bank, which is still turning itself around from the Irish property and banking crisis which forced the country into a bailout, reported a net loss of 454 million euros ($599 million) from 1.1 billion euros in the same period of last year. The Irish state owns 15.0 percent of the bank since it was rescued at the height of the crisis. The bank said that it had reduced provisions for bad loans by 17.0 percent to 780 million euros, and would continue to reduce this charge as the Irish economy improved. Managing director Richie Boucher said that the economic climate remained difficult but that the bank had made progress towards its strategic targets and towards a return to profits. Analysts at finance house Davy commented that the bank seemed to be well on track to turn in profit next year. On Thursday, Allied Irish Banks (AIB), which was also rescued and is almost wholly owned by the state, reported that it had cut losses in the first half.