Wednesday 24 January 2018

Bank to give up €500,000 corporate box at Lansdowne

joe brennan

€4m

The estimated value of BoI's Irish art collection

Bank of Ireland is to give up its corporate boxes at Croke Park and the new Aviva Stadium when the leases expire, chief executive Richie Boucher signalled yesterday.

The bank has a box in Croke Park and signed up to a five-year deal for a corporate box with the Irish Rugby Football Union in the new Lansdowne Road stadium -- at a cost of €500,000 -- before the bank's initial bailout last year.

Mr Boucher told shareholders yesterday that as corporate box leases "come up for renewal, we won't be renewing them".

Chief executive Richie Boucher defended the group's corporate sponsorships as ways of "developing and demonstrating our brand" -- but added that all deals were reviewed continuously.

Meanwhile, BoI chairman Pat Molloy repeatedly rebuffed calls for his directors to stand down for what shareholder Gerry Murphy termed as "the outrageous lending during the Celtic Tiger years".

Small shareholder Pat Hegarty slammed "the appalling record of the bank over the last six or seven years" as he told the extraordinary general meeting that he would not be participating in BoI's rights issue.

"I'm the victim of the board's incompetence -- as are all shareholders," he said.

But Mr Molloy, a well-regarded former BoI chief executive who returned to chair the bank last year, repeated the mantra at the group's last extraordinary meeting in January that he would judge his team on its performance.

Mr Molloy told investors the focus of the board "is on restoring shareholder value ... and getting dividends back" and rebuilding the share price "in time".

When asked about respected Irish-born businessman Niall Fitzgerald's well-publicised negative comments two months ago about corporate culture in this country, Mr Molloy said: "Many people would not agree with his blanket condemnation of moral standards."

Mr Fitzgerald, former chief executive of consumer goods giant Unilever, suggested that many people in Irish business succeeded because they were "intertwined with politics".

Elsewhere, Mr Molloy also faced down demands from investors that the proceeds of the bank's planned sale of its remaining Irish art collection, valued at €4m, be used to plug part of the group's €1.6bn pension deficit, rather than given to charity.

He said the collection was originally put together to support emerging artists. "Our intention is to put that money back out into the community," he added.

Irish Independent

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