Wednesday 18 July 2018

Newsmaker: Fiona Muldoon

Fiona Muldoon, Director of Insurance Supervision, Central Bank of Ireland
Fiona Muldoon, Director of Insurance Supervision, Central Bank of Ireland

To say Fiona Muldoon has had a rough month or so would be putting it mildly, to say the least.

A former insurance professional in Bermuda with XL Insurance, Ms Muldoon was well regarded when she was head of insurance regulation for the Central Bank, and it was widely seen as a blow to the regulator when she announced she was would leave Dame Street in November 2013.

She wasn't out of work for long, though. In January this year she joined insurer FBD as group finance director.

Famously, she said she was "a private sector type of person".

The FBD share price stood at €11.35 when she began her new job and headed up over €12 at one point, but now the firm is in a very different place.

The bottom line had been hurt by poor results but investors were still shocked when Andrew Langford abruptly stepped down from his position as chief executive last month.

The company named Ms Muldoon as interim chief executive but that did nothing to shore up investor concern about the direction of the group.

Its share price plummeted more than 10pc on the same day.

Now the stock languishes at €6.80 - down more than 25pc since the end of July.

This coming week will be a real test of Ms Muldoon. Today she will be firmly in the spotlight as the company releases second-quarter results.

The market is not expecting good news. Analysts expect FBD to report heavy losses, as well as a new round of capital raising to ensure the company's capital reserves can pass the new EU insurance regulation known as Solvency II.

The insurer will also likely exit its property and leisure business - a move that could hurt its bottom line in the short term but help it focus on the insurance business.

It is expected to continue to increase its motor and business insurance rates. This is likely to see farmers having to pay more for cover, as the company is traditionally the main insurer in the agriculture sector.

Most importantly, though, analysts will be hoping to answer one question: does the (interim) chief executive have a plan? Ms Muldoon will be hoping she can pass the test.

Irish Independent

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