The Punt: KBC banking on new chief
Alongside quarterly results issued yesterday, KBC Bank Ireland has announced that its chief executive John Reynolds is leaving the company for personal reasons.
The Punt is sorry to hear it. Reynolds is a straight-talker – a rarity in the opaque, media-unfriendly banking world.
His departure is worrying for other reasons too. His stint as chief executive was only four years long, and everyone knows that a carousel of chief executives is no good thing for the bank. It doesn't help that KBC Ireland is taking a massive hit this quarter to compensate for non-performing loans, which should mean that Q4 net losses total around €800m.
We hope this doesn't mean the Belgian-owned bank's commitment to the Irish market is wobbling; it provides much-needed diversity in an ever-shrinking market. It is launching new products and opening new outlets, while AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB have been closing branches. Its presence is all the more important given the exodus of banking players of late.
So there's a lot of responsibility resting on the shoulders of Wim Verbraeken, the current chief executive at KBC Ireland, who has just been appointed as Reynolds' successor.