Monday 26 February 2018

NAMA suffers first resignation as Geoghegan backs board shake-up

Former HSBC banker Michael Geoghegan's recommendations are believed to be broadly supportive of NAMA
Former HSBC banker Michael Geoghegan's recommendations are believed to be broadly supportive of NAMA

Emmet Oliver, Deputy Business Editor

NAMA has announced the first resignation from its board as ex-HSBC banker Michael Geoghegan suggests a range of changes to how the agency operates.

The Irish Independent understands Mr Geoghegan undertook a skills audit of NAMA at the top level and changes are in the pipeline.

The changes are not expected to be at executive level, where the chief executive is Brendan McDonagh and chairman is Frank Daly. Mr Geoghegan held a meeting this week with Finance Minister Michael Noonan about the changes.

In what is understood to be an unrelated development to the audit, non-executive board member Peter Stewart said last night he was stepping down.

He said Mr Geoghegan's advice would usher in "significant changes'' at NAMA, although Mr Stewart refused to elaborate further.

He denied his decision to step down was related to the Geoghegan review. "Nobody asked me to resign, I'm resigning happy,'' he said last night.

"I believe the Geoghegan review should be a watershed in the life of NAMA, and I hope its recommendations will be fully implemented,'' he added. Mr Stewart chaired the Northern Ireland committee of NAMA.

Mr Stewart, a partner with O'Donovan Stewart, a chartered accountancy practice, has been a board member since the setting up of NAMA in December 2009.

Mr Geoghegan's recommendations are believed to be broadly supportive of NAMA, but he does suggest changes to how the agency is run. He also suggests the agency should try creative ways to sell assets.

The agency has effectively completed its most challenging phase, buying over €30bn of assets and now needs to change its focus to maximising the vaule of those assets, the report, gone to the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is believed to say.

"It has been a great honour and privilege to serve on the board of NAMA. This is an appropriate juncture for my decision, particularly with the completion of the review of the structures of NAMA,'' said Mr Stewart.

Meanwhile, NAMA will spend about €29.9bn on consultants and lawyers in 2011, a parliamentary reply states.

The reply to Fine Gael deputy Eoghan Murphy also says projected legal costs for the NTMA in 2011 are €8m. These are the costs relating to the banking sector.

While an NTMA banking unit has moved to within the Department of Finance, the costs of t his unit will remain on the books of the NTMA until the end of this year.

Irish Independent

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