Newsmaker: Bernard Byrne, AIB chief executive
Published 14/12/2015 | 02:30
It's just possible that Bernard Byrne will look back on this week as the most significant in his working life.
On Wednesday, the AIB chief executive - pictured last week at the bank's annual Christmas market -will stand before his shareholders and formally start the process of returning the lender to private hands. The bank called the EGM to vote on its capital reorganisation plan, which will see the lender's stock consolidated on a one-for-250 basis.
Crucially though, the plan will also see the bank repay about €1.7bn to the State. It is this that will grab the headlines on the day.
The meeting is a fait accompli. Undoubtedly, Mr Byrne will have to listen to some disgruntled shareholders - many of whom have earned the right to complain - but with the Government owning 99pc of the lender, any objections to the plan will not change the outcome of the meeting.
For Mr Byrne it will be a big victory. Since he took over the top job at AIB last summer, the 47-year-old has continued the work of his predecessor, David Duffy, slimming the bank's overall size and focusing on its core activities in Ireland. Rightly or wrongly, Mr Byrne is seen internally as more down to earth than Mr Duffy, whose image as an international banker sometimes grated with the rank and file.
While one could argue that the bulk of the work to get AIB back on its feet was done by the time he took over, Mr Byrne is the man in charge when it actually starts to repay the bailout to taxpayers. Rightly, it will be trumpeted by both the bank and Government.
There is still a huge amount of work for him to do, but this will be an important first step.