Business Irish

Saturday 21 April 2018

The Punt: Another type of partner move

Ulster Bank chief executive Jim Brown arrives for a Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform hearing on mortgage arrears at Leinster House earlier this week
Ulster Bank chief executive Jim Brown arrives for a Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform hearing on mortgage arrears at Leinster House earlier this week

The top echelons of the country's biggest law firms change partners with ease. Now hold your horses – we're not talking about swinging. We mean lawyers who have worked so hard they've managed to get an equity stake – you know, the "pop the champagne cork, I've been made partner" type.

Liam Carney is a perfect example. He's the newest partner at LK Shields Solicitors in Dublin, joining its rapidly expanding banking practice. But this isn't his first time – he's been a partner in two of the country's other biggest law firms too, including US multinational Maples and Calder. Mr Carney has dealt with some heavy hitters during his career.

Among other things, he was lead legal adviser to NAMA on the sale of the Avestus loan portfolio, advised SIAC Construction on issues with banks following restructuring and also gave advice to bondholders who loaned money to the Quinn Group.

We're exhausted just writing that; Mr Carney must have serious energy. But interestingly, the banking divisions of the country's biggest law firms tend to be relatively sedate. Corporate finance is the madhouse, where lawyers live up to their stereotypes and work long into the night to close deals.

Kelleher latest to leave NAMA

A former NAMA adviser is to take on a senior role at the country's newest real estate investment fund.

Donal Kelleher is to take on the job of chief investment officer at Irish Residential Properties REIT, the property investment fund created to ride the wave of Ireland's house price recovery.

Since its founding in December 2009, NAMA has seen multiple staff leave only to take up jobs in companies that speculate on property values.

Mr Kelleher worked for NAMA until recently, it is understood. A chartered surveyor, he has more than 20 years' experience in real estate dealings.

"His primary responsibility will be for the day-to-day development of IRES REIT's residential rental portfolio in Ireland, including identifying opportunities and on-the-ground investment sourcing," said a statement from his new employer.

Banking on subordinates

The Punt's not sure whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. But it is certainly a thing.

At Leinster House this week the chief executives of all four main banks left most of talking to their subordinates.

Ulster Bank's Jim Brown started the trend when he left it to Ulster's head of risk Stephen Bell to fill in much of the detail of how the bank's mortgage arrears management works.

Yesterday Bank of Ireland's Richie Boucher was on hand to field the Committee members' usual questions about his salary etc, but he left detailed queries on the mortgage arrears to Stephen Mason, who heads up the bank's efforts in that department.

Permanent TSB's Shane O'Sullivan provided the same service for Jeremey Masding, and over at AIB Brendan O'Connor took many of the more detailed questions.

Does it mean the executive suites at the big banks are preoccupied with even bigger concerns about what's lurking within their books than plain old mortgages? Or it's a positive sign that the work now going on in relation to arrears really is coal face stuff – too detailed and fast-moving for chief executives to keep up on? Kudos though to Committee chairman Ciaran Lynch, who kept the sessions with the banks focused and informative, regard-less of who was fielding the questions.

Irish Independent

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