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Permanent TSB shareholders walk out of meeting in row over voting

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Jeremy Masding, CEO of the Permanent TSB

Jeremy Masding, CEO of the Permanent TSB

Jeremy Masding, CEO of the Permanent TSB

PERMANENT TSB shareholders staged a mass walkout of the company's annual general meeting yesterday, amid a row over voting at the meeting.

The protest occurred after the company insisted that a proposal to adjourn the meeting be voted on electronically instead of the show of hands wanted by some shareholders.

The proposal to adjourn was comfortably defeated but there were shouts of "sham" and "disgrace" and dozens of shareholders walked out of the event in protest.

The walkout capped a rowdy shareholder meeting that saw chief executive Jeremy Masding and chairman Alan Cook face the ire of investors who have seen their investments wiped out and former bank employees who will have their pensions slashed when the bank ends contributions to its defined benefit scheme at the end of the month.

The meeting was also marked by the removal of a company director by shareholders.

Activist investor Piotr Skoczylaz was voted off the board, largely because the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, who owns more than 99pc of the bank shares, voted to remove him.

Mr Skoczylaz, who has been a vocal opponent of the bank and Government over the sale of Irish Life earlier this year, had stood for re-election as part of the normal rotation of board members.

After the meeting, the bank said it had had no contact with Mr Noonan over the re-election of Mr Skoczylaz and had not recommended he be removed.

Permanent TSB is losing money on "tracker" mortgages that it cannot increase the interest rate on but, even so, Mr Masding said more than 20,000 of its personal dwelling mortgages were now more than 90 days in arrears.

ASSET

Of those, some 12,400 had entered the bank's "asset management unit" since January in an effort to reach some sort of resolution on how to deal with the repayments.

The chief executive added that the lender had agreed "treatments" for 9,200 of those so far.

These treatments can involve a number of methods, including splitting the mortgage principal, or moving to interest-only repayments for a time. Permanent TSB split itself into a main bank that will continue to operate and has essentially hived off its non-performing businesses.

Mr Masding said the "bank plus two" strategy, as it is known, was showing "real progress" in getting the lender back to health.

"Through these units, we can provide a dedicated, sophisticated and sympathetic response to customers whose loans are in arrears or find a better home for firms who don't fit our long-terms strategy," Mr Masding claimed.

The lender gave out barely €90m in new loans last year, a figure Mr Masding said would be increased sharply in 2013.

"We are looking to increase our lending by about nine times this year," he said.

"We will have that money available. There is a difference, of course, between what we approve and what is ultimately drawn down but we cannot control that," he added.

Irish Independent