Published 25/04/2010 | 05:00
THE Glaswegian former EBS chief first came to Ireland in 1974, and after briefly considering a career in law, he got into banking.
He held senior roles at ICS building society and its parent, Bank of Ireland, becoming ICS chief executive in 1995.
He was headhunted for the CEO job at EBS in 2000. He was intent on a programme of modernisation and expansion, but was also determined that the society remain a mutual.
Meanwhile, Michael Fingleton's Irish Nationwide jumped at the chance to demutualise following changes to the Building Societies Act in 2004.
This upped the ante even more for EBS to compete with its non-mutual rivals. Profits more than doubled to over €60m between 2000 and 2007. Some of its projects had unfortunate timing, though.
It only targeted the commercial property market in 2006, while rival Irish Nationwide entered that arena with (calamitous, as it turned out) gusto and was making two-thirds of its profits there.
EBS teamed with subprime lender GE Money the same year, just as property markets were poised to crumble.
There were several outbreaks of board tension at EBS during McGovern's years there, but the 2007 AGM where board member Ethna Tinney's re-election was narrowly defeated turned into a PR disaster. Another lowlight was the revelation that a supposedly "ordinary member" who spoke in defence of the board at the meeting was actually McGovern's wife.
He stood down unexpectedly the following September, getting a €1.8m payout.
In 2007 EBS took a €15m hit on bad debts owed by Dublin solicitor Thomas Byrne and his clients.
McGovern's profile on the business network site Linked In says he is an "independent banking professional." He was educated at St Mungo's Academy and Glasgow University.