UK banks and building societies saw their market share continue to decline last year, according to De Montfort University.

The university’s study found that 34% of new loans at the end of last year were originated by UK banks – the lowest level ever recorded in the 2015 De Montfort Commercial Property Lending Report.

The figure compares with the 39% recorded in 2014.

The proportion of outstanding debt held on their books also fell, from 49% of the total at year-end 2014 to 45.5% in 2015. 

For the first time, insurance companies were the second-largest category of new loan originators, representing 16%, or £8.6bn (€11.1bn), of the total in 2015.

The exposures of insurance companies now account for 15.1% (£25.4bn) of the market, compared with 12.7% (£21bn) in 2014. 

De Montfort’s report found that new loan originations for commercial property reached a six-year high.

The value of outstanding loan books saw its first increase since 2008.

The total amount of outstanding debt at year-end 2015 was £168.4bn, representing a 1.9% increase from £165.2bn at year-end 2014.

Overall, £53.7bn of loan originations were recorded during the whole of 2015, compared with £45.2bn in 2014.

Banks, building societies and insurance companies increased their loan originations for commercial development projects from £1.57bn in 2014 to £1.95bn in 2015.

However, non-bank lenders saw a decline, from £0.8bn in 2014 to £0.3bn in 2015.  

Peter Cosmetatos, chief executive at lender trade association CREFC Europe, said: “The report confirms that, in terms of fundamentals, sentiment and discipline, the market was in a good place coming into 2016 and the uncertainty provoked by the EU referendum.

“At a more structural level, the transformation of the loan-distribution market is striking. North American banks that would traditionally have favoured securitisation are establishing themselves as a syndication powerhouse, almost certainly influenced by a combination of commercial and regulatory factors.

“This lender category was the only one to report syndicating more in 2015 than in 2014, accounting for well over half of the total value of loans syndicated.”

Regional distribution of outstanding loans showed a strong bias in favour of central London, with 43% of the total outstanding debt secured against real estate in the UK capital city – the highest result ever recorded by the research.