Finance Ireland chief financial officer Karena O'Sullivan is leaving the company in what sources say is a signal a planned 2020 stock market flotation has now been delayed indefinitely.
Formerly head of mortgages at Bank of Ireland, Ms O'Sullivan only joined Billy Kane's Finance Ireland in January as the firm put in place a team to manage a planned stock market listing. She is now returning to a senior job at Bank of Ireland.
The Finance Ireland initial public offering (IPO), tipped to raise €100m, was originally planned for May this year but the company and advisers Goodbody paused that timetable as the Covid-19 outbreak struck the economy and financial markets.
Sources said Ms O'Sullivan's departure is a reflection that an IPO in 2020 is now off the agenda. A flotation is still planned, but is thought to be at least 12 to 18 months away and subject to market conditions.
The State is among the shareholders which might have cashed out of the business via the IPO. Taxpayers hold a 31pc stake in Finance Ireland through the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (Isif). Other shareholders include US investment giant Pimco as well as Mr Kane and his management team.
Bank of Ireland is understood to have told staff in recent days Ms O'Sullivan will return to the newly created role of finance director, Retail Ireland and Corporate Banking. She will report to Myles O'Grady, the bank's chief financial officer, and will sit on key internal leadership teams across the bank's finance, Retail Ireland and corporate banking functions.
Finance Ireland, headed by former Permanent TSB chief Mr Kane, is the country's biggest non-bank lender. Its loan book exceeds €1bn across the commercial property, car finance, SME and agri sectors and it entered the residential mortgage market in 2018, initially by buying €200m of home loans from Pepper and subsequently lending in its own right.
The company has secured €85m in equity investment from Pimco and Isif and has funded significant lending by tapping the capital markets, including securitisations, which have allowed the firm to borrow on the bond market against its loan assets.
An IPO would boost Finance Ireland's prospects as a potential consolidator in the fragmented non-bank lender market which developed here initially in the wake of the global financial crisis, when bank lenders retreated from Ireland or from segments of the market including commercial property and elements of SME lending.
The latest available financial results for Finance Ireland are from 2018. They recorded pre-tax profits had hit €10.5m, with new lending rising 13pc to €491m. Total lending is well above €1bn, making it the biggest Irish lender after the banks.