Saturday 24 March 2018

The Punt: AIB gets CFO - despite pay cap

Mark Bourke
Mark Bourke
Spark of genius? The ESB’s Donal Flynn (right) and the Dublin Web Summit’s Paddy Cosgrave.

THE lengthy hunt to find a chief financial officer for AIB is finally over -- despite the fears of the bank's deputy chairman that they weren't offering enough.

The State-owned bank has finally settled on Mark Bourke, the current chief executive of financial services firm IFG, who will take up the challenge in April when he formally leaves his current role. He'll also become an executive director of the bank.

AIB chief executive David Duffy said he was "extremely pleased" about Mr Bourke's decision to join the bank.

"I am sure that he will make a valuable contribution to the future strategic direction of the bank," he said.

As chief executive of listed IFG Mr Bourke was paid a handsome £688,000 (€813,000) last year. That included a £371,000 salary, a £204,000 bonus, £39,000 in other payments and a £74,000 contribution towards his pension.

It is substantially more than the maximum of €500,000 a year he will get at AIB, where a government-imposed annual salary cap is rigidly enforced. Over the summer AIB's deputy chairman Michael Somers warned that staff who were "systemically important" to the bank were being lost because of the cap.

Mr Bourke will join AIB ahead of the time when the bailed-out giant is finally predicted to swing back into profit and as the hunt for new investors gets underway.


Gambling with Kim Jong-un

Basketball diplomacy anyone? Paddy Power, the retail and online gambling giant is sponsoring a basketball game in North Korea with former NBA player Dennis Rodman as guest of honour.

Rodman will head back to the world's most secretive and terrifying dictatorship this Thursday to help train its Olympic basketball team for the invitational game in Pyongyang early next year, on his third trip there.

Meanwhile, last week North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's uncle and erstwhile mentor Jang Song Thaek seemingly fell foul of his nephew's regime and was executed publicly following a one-day 'trial'.

Rodman says he is a "good friend" of Kim Jong-un; the pint-sized ruler has scheduled the Paddy Power Dennis Rodman Invitational to coincide with his birthday in January.

Paddy Power has drawn both acclaim and criticism for its mischievous ad campaigns and sponsorships, but endorsing an event in a country where reports of imprisonments, torture and widescale famine are constant is a new departure.

Paddy Power's response is to say it does not "endorse or support" the regime. "The purpose of this trip is not to get involved with politics but to prove once again that sport has the power to rise above all issues," spokesman Rory Scott told CNN.


Who is that bright spark?

THE Punt is an avid reader of newsletters of all kinds. Among them is the ESB's in-house magazine 'EM' which contains the sort of dreary corporate propaganda that would make even Pravda blanche.

At a time when the ESB was making headlines across the country thanks to Brendan Ogle's strike threats, 'EM's' October and November issue trumpeted the thrilling news that "Sustainability strategy 2013-16 launched". Phew!

A photograph on page five brought a smile to the Punt's lips however. The picture of chief financial officer Donal Flynn and the Dublin Web Summit's Paddy Cosgrave had a headline above it with the words: "2013 ESB Spark of Genius Award".

Donal Flynn is, of course, one of the ESB's senior management who helped the company strike a deal with Ogle to allow the company's pension scheme to be classified as a defined benefit scheme in the company's accounts. That decision will help ensure most of 'EM's' readers retire in comfort. Surely that took more than just a "spark of genius"?

Irish Independent

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