Saturday 17 March 2018

BoI moves its headquarters in cost-cutting initiative

Joe Brennan

Bank of Ireland is moving its headquarters from its iconic main office on Baggot Street to its much smaller building on Mespil Road, already home to its private banking, asset management and IBI Corporate Finance businesses.

Among its neighbours at the new address will be BoI's former boss, Mike Soden, who has reached prominence again in the past year, publicly decrying how the group's property boom lending drive saw its balance sheet balloon after his resignation in 2004.

BoI told staff yesterday that the move will take effect from the end of March.

It will initially involve about 60 people, including the group executive and related units such as investor relations, corporate communications and secretariat.

It also hinted that more activities from the 20,000-sqm Baggot Street building may move to Mespil Road over the next two to three years. BoI has break options on its Baggot Street lease in 2012 and 2013.

"No decisions on precise locations have been made at this stage, but regular status updates will be provided," it said in a staff email. "With cost management a key priority, existing office space in Dublin will be utilised where possible."

The news will come as major disappointment for the consortium, led by developer Paddy Shovlin, that acquired the Baggot Street complex from BoI's pension fund in a €180m deal in 2006.

Bank of Scotland, which bankrolled the purchase, moved last month to sue Mr Shovlin and two other men, Patrick Fitzpatrick and Anthony Fitzpatrick, for allegedly failing to pay about €1.1m owing on the loan.

Yesterday, BoI said that it has exited more than seven properties in Dublin and London in recent times, relocating over 2,000 staff into existing office space.

"The group's much smaller office building in Mespil Road is considered more suitable as a head office location for the restructured group," it said.

BoI put its €32bn UK broker-sourced mortgage book and €5bn of international corporate loans into run-down last year. It is also transferring €16bn of risky property loans to the National Asset Management Agency this year.

Group chairman Pat Molloy told shareholders earlier this week that cost control remains a priority, after the group shaved 10pc off its costs last year by parting company with 1,700 workers, mainly through natural attrition. Sources stressed that this was not a signal the group is planning a voluntary redundancy scheme.

Irish Independent

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