Sunday 26 March 2017

O'Connor had signalled exit at troubled lender

Boss-in-waiting Alan Dukes hopes to restore reputation of Anglo Irish Bank

Donal O'Connor, executive chairman of Anglo Irish Bank (right) signalled before Christmas he intended stepping down at the bank
from which non-executive director Frank Daly (left) had left earlier to chair NAMA. Alan Dukes is to be the new Anglo chairman.
Donal O'Connor, executive chairman of Anglo Irish Bank (right) signalled before Christmas he intended stepping down at the bank from which non-executive director Frank Daly (left) had left earlier to chair NAMA. Alan Dukes is to be the new Anglo chairman.

Joe Brennan and Michael Brennan

Anglo Irish Bank chairman Donal O'Connor had signalled his plans to step down before Christmas, but was asked by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan to stay on as fellow director Frank Daly was leaving to chair the country's 'bad bank', according to sources.

The Government confirmed yesterday that Mr O'Connor will be stepping down over the coming months and will be succeeded by fellow Anglo director, former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes.

The timing of Mr O'Connor's resignation at the end of June will coincide with the expected outcome of Brussels' scrutiny of the nationalised bank's survival plan.

Viable

Anglo's new management, led by Australian Mike Aysnley, is hoping to split the group into an internal 'good' and 'bad' bank. The aim is to wind down the bad bank over a period of time and create a viable business lender out of the good bank.

Mr Dukes yesterday denied that he is being appointed chairman of the beleaguered group as a reward for attacking his own party's banking rescue policy.

He caused fury in Fine Gael last September when he described its 'good bank' plan as "very cumbersome, very doubtful of success and much less clear" than the Government's NAMA proposal.

It led to calls for his resignation as vice-president of Fine Gael and a condemnation from party leader Enda Kenny, who said he "profoundly disagreed" with him.

But Mr Dukes said yesterday that there was no connection whatsoever between his criticism last year and his appointment as chairman of Anglo.

Mr Lenihan said: "As a member of the Anglo Irish Bank board, Alan has been intimately involved in the bank since it was nationalised. His appointment will ensure continuity as the bank charts its future."

Mr Dukes will oversee the transfer of up to €35bn of Anglo's toxic property loans to NAMA, and the receipt of billions of euro more in state aid on top of the €4bn it has already received. The bank has been restricted by Brussels from making fresh loans since its bailout last summer.

Mr Dukes said he expected Anglo to continue as a viable bank and expressed the hope it could be sold off to the private sector in the future at a net gain to the taxpayer.

He denied that it was being prepared for a wind-down but warned there would be further redundancies this year among its 1,200-1,300 staff.

He has been a public interest director of Anglo since December 2008.

He was asked on RTE radio yesterday if the bank would recover the €70m it is owed in unpaid loans from former chairman Sean FitzPatrick.

"The bank will take whatever measures it can to maximise the return. There are cases where it will not be possible to recover all of the monies owed," he said.

Mr Lenihan said yesterday that he will be making further non-executive appointments to Anglo's board "in the near future".

Irish Independent

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