Business Irish

Saturday 17 August 2019

Irish Nationwide chief to retire at end of month

Michael Fingleton came under immense political pressure
Michael Fingleton came under immense political pressure

Ian Guider

Irish Nationwide Building Society, Ireland’s biggest customer-owned lender, said Chief Executive Officer Michael Fingleton will retire following criticism over a €1 million bonus awarded to him.

Fingleton, who said last week he will return the bonus, will leave on April 30, Dublin-based Irish Nationwide said in a statement today. Non-executive director Danny Kitchen will take over temporarily while the building society looks for a new CEO. The company also said its board will be restructured.

Fingleton has been under pressure to quit since details of the bonus emerged in a report on executive compensation by a state-appointed commission last month. Finance Minister Brian Lenihan met with the directors of the company twice in the past week to seek a “review of management and board personnel.”

Ireland’s government said the bonus, paid in November, was inappropriate as Irish Nationwide was reliant on the support of the state. The building society is one of six local lenders covered by a deposit guarantee.

Fingleton, 71, said on March 27 that the payment resulted from a “contractual and binding agreement” that he entered into with the society “long before the implementation of the guarantee scheme.”

The government has moved to cap salaries at banks receiving state aid at 500,000 euros a year and will also restrict bonuses and pension payments. It put a ceiling on the salary of Irish Nationwide’s CEO this year at 360,000 euros.

Fingleton, who has led the 136-year-old company since 1972, was paid a total of 2.3 million euros in 2008. That compares with the 1.1 million euros paid to Eugene Sheehy, CEO of the country’s biggest lender, Allied Irish Banks Plc. Fingleton has built up a pension of 27 million euros, according to the building society’s 2007 annual report. (Bloomberg)

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