Tuesday 12 December 2017

Chief cost-cutter in RTE opts for early retirement

Conor Hayes.
Conor Hayes.
Laura Noonan

Laura Noonan

RTE's chief cost-cutter Conor Hayes is set to walk away from the national broadcaster with a six-figure lump sum after signing up to an early retirement scheme he helped create.

The surprise departure of the semi-state's long-serving finance boss was confirmed in an email from RTE director general Noel Curran to all staff.

Mr Hayes (57) joined RTE in 2001 after a stint in the Middle East.

His career also includes two years as chief executive of Ryanair in the early 1990s, before he gave way to Michael O'Leary.

At RTE, Mr Hayes was the chief financial officer and driving force behind recent cost-cutting sprees, and personally oversaw pay cuts for the station's top stars like Pat Kenny and Ryan Tubridy.

He also presided over pay cuts for RTE's regular staff, and is understood to have taken a 30pc reduction to his own six-figure salary over the last three years.

RTE is now in the midst of another cost-cutting round designed to reduce costs by €25m a year by cutting the pay of 'second-tier' stars by 30pc and cutting up to 200 jobs.

Mr Hayes's departure will form part of the latest round of savings.


He will be paid a six-figure lump sum on his departure and will also be entitled to about 12pc of his pay until he reaches retirement age, the Irish Independent understands.

Mr Hayes's salary has never been disclosed but is believed to be a substantial six-figure sum.

In his address yesterday, Mr Curran linked the departure to "the organisation's need to reduce costs at all levels" -- comments that suggest the new CFO will be paid less than Mr Hayes.

A new finance chief won't be appointed for several months as Mr Hayes has agreed to stay until the autumn and RTE TV finance director Breda O'Keeffe will then become "acting CFO".

Ms O'Keeffe is expected to put her name forward for the job when it's advertised, as are several other internal candidates. It's also likely to receive several external applications.

In the message sent to RTE staff, Mr Hayes said that "while there are activities to carry out and other major challenges to overcome" now is the most "opportune time" for him leave.

Mr Hayes was intimately involved in developing RTE's digital TV platform, which is now up and running, and in securing planning permission for the broadcaster's Donnybrook redevelopment.

Mr Curran said Mr Hayes, who was due to retire in four years, had played a "significant role in helping RTÉ to speedily respond and adapt to the most difficult economic and financial challenges ever faced by the broadcaster".

Irish Independent

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