Monday 11 December 2017

Mullins decision opens door for Shine at ESB

Bord Gais chief executive John
Mullins is leaving the semistate
Bord Gais chief executive John Mullins is leaving the semistate sector

Emmet Oliver

The decision of Bord Gais chief executive, John Mullins, to leave the semi-state sector has left the way clear for the ESB to replace its departing chief executive Padraig McManus with an internal candidate.

John Shine, deputy chief executive of ESB, is now regarded as the strong favourite to replace Mr McManus, who was paid €528,886 in pay and pension in 2010. Mr Shine is seen as the only candidate who knows the ESB well enough to take on the post at this time.

Mr Mullins, also former ESB executive, was regarded as the only candidate likely to pose a challenge to Mr Shine, but it is understood Mr Mullins has no interest in the post, even though the ESB board and its chairman Lochlann Quinn would have welcomed his interest.

The ESB is currently advertising the chief executive post in Ireland and overseas. It carries a salary of €318,083, plus pension benefits.

The salary, while attractive in Irish terms, is well below that of senior chiefs running utilities and water companies in the UK and US. But under public pressure the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin has cut the pay.

Mr McManus was paid €752,568 in 2009 and his salary and pay has attracted a large amount of public criticism. In 2009 Mr McManus was awarded over €200,000 in annual bonuses and incentives.

ESB is an unusual company in the semi-state sector in that it has never appointed an outsider as a chief executive. However, with the company facing huge challenges, including remaining as a government-owned entity, there has been some discussion within government about appointing an outsider, with Mr Mullins often mentioned in that context.

But the board of the ESB, plus the powerful unions at the company, are unlikely to want any candidate who is not an experienced hand.

While internal executives like Jerry O'Sullivan and Brid Horan are regarded well within the company, Mr Shine is an experienced executive and has run ESB's crucial network business.

Also adding strength to Mr Shine's candidacy is that other potential candidates have left the company in recent years, leaving the field less crowded.

Among them was Bernard Byrne, who is now at AIB. Another executive who might have featured was Michael McNicolas, who is now CEO of NTR plc. He was previously a director of ESB's international arm, ESBI.

Irish Independent

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