Friday 23 June 2017

Sheehy, a 'lifer' who met a swift decline in AIB

The boss's fall was just as dramatic as his rise to the summit of Irish banking circles

EUGENE Sheehy hung onto office until November, even though he announced his departure in early May. The boss of AIB, Ireland's biggest bank, joined his chairman -- barrister Dermot Gleeson -- in the exit lounge before the AGM on May 13.

It had been widely reported that several big shareholders would oppose their re-election if they held on.

The 54-year-old Sheehy was another bank 'lifer', having worked in AIB since leaving school. He rose rapidly and was the first AIB boss to reach the top spot from the retail side.

He was a popular figure in the AIB canteen and was the first man to push bank profits beyond the €1bn landmark. He was awarded the top job ahead of present incumbent Colm Doherty, mainly because he was given credit for sorting out the US operation following the Ruznak debacle.

Sheehy's downfall after just four years at the top followed a period of irresponsible lending to developers in a rush to emulate Anglo Irish Bank. Sheehy's subsequent denial of any trouble ahead included his famous boast that AIB would "rather die than raise equity".

He was forced to eat his words when the Government announced two recapitalisations amounting to €5m. Sheehy's earlier decision to raise the AIB dividend at a time when the bank desperately needed to bolster reserves may have been an act of bravado, but it failed to impress investors, least of all the Government.

Sunday Independent

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