Thursday 21 November 2019

Industry heavyweights join board of Irish Life unit

Laura Noonan

IRISH Life & Permanent has begun beefing up the board of its life insurance subsidiary ahead of a planned trade sale, or stock market flotation, of the business later this year.

Documents lodged with the Companies Office show Irish Life Assurance (ILA) added former Canada Life Ireland boss Tom Barry and former Bank of Ireland Life boss Brian Forrester to its board in April.

The appointments came days after the Central Bank's stress tests revealed that Irish Life & Permanent (IL&P) needed €4bn of extra capital -- a demand that would force the group to sell off its life insurance arm.

Mr Barry and Mr Forrester are the first directors of Irish Life Assurance not to sit on the main IL&P board.

In a statement yesterday, a spokesman for IL&P said the group had been "working to strengthen the ILA board as a distinct entity" as part of a corporate governance programme.

Market sources believe the arrival of Mr Barry and Mr Forrester could strengthen Irish Life Assurance's hand when the company tries to whet investor appetite for a sale or flotation.

The duo also have strong contacts in the life-insurance industry. Mr Barry has spent more than 25 years in life insurance, and is well known to Canada Life's massive parent company, Great West Life Co.

Mr Barry is also a director of three of the Irish offshoots of Dutch financial giant Eureko.

Mr Forrester spent eight years with Bank of Ireland Life and was recently drafted in to spearhead a review of the bank's heavily indebted pension scheme.

Separate filings at the Companies Office show Irish Life registered a new company last October which would carry out both life insurance and health insurance.

The plc's spokesman stressed that Irish Life Financial Services was still subject to Central Bank authorisation.

Irish Independent

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