Business Irish

Sunday 25 August 2019

Rooney one of the three-man team to advise on toxic bank

Maeve Dineen Business Editor

THE Government has appointed the chairman of the International Fund for Ireland Denis Rooney, Blackstone financier Gerry Murphy, and banker Michael Geoghegan to a three-man committee to look into the workings of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), the Irish Independent has learnt.

The men will offer independent advice to Finance Minister Michael Noonan on NAMA's operations as he begins a major review of the bad bank's operations.

Mr Noonan announced the establishment of the group in December's Budget, but had not named the committee or given details of the review.

Mr Noonan said before last year's elections that he was going to look at certain aspects of NAMA's operations, but added that it was impossible "to unscramble an egg".

The new committee will advise on NAMA's strategy and capacity to deliver, but it is still not clear what powers the new advisory group will have over NAMA itself.

Mr Noonan has previously said that he will clarify this when he issues formal directions to NAMA on how the agency should co-operate with the new committee.

Separate to the setting-up of the advisory group, NAMA is understood to be currently undertaking a review of its entire strategy.

New group

Mr Geoghegan, who will chair the new group, is a former chief executive of HSBC bank, where he worked for 37 years.

He is also a former boss of NAMA chief executive Brendan McDonagh, who ran HSBC's North American unit when Mr Geoghegan ran the bank.

The English-born and Dublin-educated Mr Geoghegan led a review of NAMA last year for the Government which included recommendations that it become more "entrepreneurial" and consider selling off some assets to be managed by third parties. He has a CBE for services to industry and will carry out his new role without payment.

Mr Rooney, chairman of the IFI, has also served for several years on the Belfast-based Economic Development Forum.

He is a former chairman of the Institute of Directors and was awarded an MBE for his services to the construction industry and a CBE for his services to the Northern Ireland economy.

He founded Belfast-based construction consultancy DRA in 1984 and sold it to White Young and Green 20 years later.

The last member of the committee is Cork-born Gerry Murphy, who restored Greencore's reputation following its flotation and went on to lead Carlton Television and then become chief executive of retail giant Kingfisher.

He has since become a senior figure in the Blackstone Group, which has been regularly linked with plans to buy Nama loans, including Treasury Holdings' debts relating to London's Battersea Power Station.

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