FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan has appointed former Revenue Commissioner boss Frank Daly as the first chairman of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).
The retired civil servant and current Anglo Irish Bank board member now finds himself responsible for the fate of hundreds of developers and their massive debts. Mr Daly and the rest of NAMA's newly appointed board will have a key role in transferring loans worth tens of billions of euro from the country's stricken banks into state hands.
The Government hopes this will enable the banks to strengthen their balance sheets and eventually resume lending.
The board will have responsibility for shaping NAMA over the next few years and will decide the future of developers, ranging from household names to small-time developers.
NAMA will decide which developers should be wound up for not paying their debts and which should be saved because they have a chance of pulling through the slump.
Banks now have just under 60 days to apply to NAMA to transfer loans into the agency.
Allied Irish Banks will hold a meeting today to ask shareholders for permission to swap loans for cash, while Bank of Ireland will hold a meeting early next year. The banks will then begin transferring loans from their 10 biggest debtors.
Mr Lenihan hailed Mr Daly's experience in the Revenue Commissioners and his work as a government-appointed member of the board of Anglo Irish Bank following the bank's nationalisation earlier this year.
The minister had looked overseas for a chairman but decided it was essential to appoint somebody who understood Ireland and Irish ways of doing business.
Mr Daly will step down from Anglo Irish to take up the part-time position as chairman of NAMA.
Neither Mr Daly's salary, nor the salary of chief executive Brendan McDonagh, whose temporary position was also confirmed yesterday, have been finalised, the Department of Finance said yesterday.
Besides Mr Daly, the other members of NAMA's board are former AIG official Eilish Finan, former Bank of Ireland board member Michael Connolly, bank director and auditor Peter Stewart, insolvency expert Brian McEnery, former Fingal county manager Willie Soffe, NAMA chief executive Brendan McDonagh and newly appointed National Treasury Management Agency boss John Corrigan.
International Monetary Fund official Steven Seelig will join the board in May. Some of the board members were approa- ched to join the board, while others wrote to NAMA to offer their services.
Mr Lenihan also consulted with Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore and both men supported the appointments.
Mr Lenihan added he was "very, very happy" with Mr Seelig's appointment and said it was very unusual to appoint somebody from the Washington DC-based IMF to such a board.