'Mad' leaders – and a lender in total meltdown
As Anglo faced running out of money within months, Drumm revealed that there was 'method in my madness', write Gavin Sheridan and Tom Lyons
It's March 2008 and John Bowe calls Anglo chief David Drumm.
They discuss a recent meeting with a ratings agency, which, they say, went well. Anglo is hanging in there. Drumm advises Bowe that "body language needs to be reasonably positive, because it's self-fulfilling".
"My email to staff was along the same lines," he tells him.
Drumm points out that the board of Anglo had told him that he was doing everything he could for the bank. "We all need that, just the seal of approval, y'know," Drumm says proudly. "Having said all that, we're going to run out of money in a few months!" he adds, laughing.
The two then turn to bank funding questions and a forthcoming investor roadshow.
Both men point to difficulties with performance from some staff at Anglo – "lads sitting at their desks on the corporate side scratching their holes", says Drumm. Both agree they need to keep their staff motivated.
"We have limited time left and we need to be effective," says Bowe, "but a combination of things have just got the bums off the seats."
"Could it have been me pulling both pins out of the two grenades I keep in my hand and firing them into the middle of the f**king dealing room, like I normally do?" asks Drumm.
"There's a method in my madness, John," Drumm laughs.
"Well, certainly, there's a madness anyway, whether there's a method there I'm not sure," Bowe replies. "Did you not know that all great leaders are mad?" Drumm asks while laughing. "You'd want to be f**king mad to be doing this, I tell ya."
Later in the call, the two turn to their rivals. First it's Irish Life and Permanent (IL&P).
"The hounds smell blood on IL&P now . . . their share price has just fallen badly," says Bowe. "Not a lot of things you can do in this market," Drumm responds.
Then it's Bank of Ireland's turn: "The word out of Bank is that they, for the life of them – and you could feel their pain a bit – don't know what's going on with the share price," Drumm says. "I actually have heard nothing, have you?" Drumm asks. "It's f**king madness."
"What is exercising Bank [of Ireland] more than anything else is why they're being beaten up more than Allied [Irish Banks]," Bowe says.
"They think that Allied have played fast and loose with lending money to every cowboy in town – apart from ourselves also lending money to every cowboy in town – they think they've been the sensible bankers and the market just doesn't get it," says Bowe. "Well I know differently," Drumm says.