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Two billionaire investors join Bank of Ireland board


Wilbur Ross has joined the board of Bank of Ireland

Wilbur Ross has joined the board of Bank of Ireland

Wilbur Ross has joined the board of Bank of Ireland

Two heavyweight billionaire investors have joined the board of Bank of Ireland, which also named Scottish executive Archie Kane to be its new chairman yesterday.

Bank of Ireland is 15pc state- owned, making it the only big Irish bank not in majority state control following the banking crisis.

Wilbur Ross, whose investment firm WL Ross holds a 9.3pc stake in the bank, and V Prem Watsa, whose Fairfax Financial group has a similar size stake have been appointed non-executive directors of Bank of Ireland with immediate effect.

Both men have been voted on to the board at their own request, by the current directors.

Their decision to join the board in person, rather than appoint nominees, means they will have a far more hands-on role at the bank than many market watchers had expected when they took stakes last year.

High profile

Mr Ross is a high-profile US banking investor with a personal fortune estimated to be worth around €1.7bn.

He has been outspoken in his views that the Irish economy will recover from the financial crisis.

Canada-based V Prem Watsa has a lower profile, but is estimated to be even wealthier with a €3bn personal fortune, according to some estimates.

As head of Fairfax Financial Holdings he controls a significant stake in Bank of Ireland, where he invested alongside US partner Kennedy Wilson last year.

Bank of Ireland is not his only Irish investment. Earlier this month Fairfax and Kennedy Wilson closed a €40m deal to buy the Alliance Building, an apartment block in Dublin's Gasworks.

Lloyds director

Bank of Ireland has also appointed former Lloyds Banking Group director Archie Kane to its board.

He will replace current chairman Pat Molloy, who is stepping down at the end of the month after three years on the board, where he has overseen two recapitalisations that raised over €8bn from state and private sector funds to secure the viability of the bank.

Scotland-born Mr Kane retired as a director of UK banking giant Lloyds last year.

The appointment means all three of the remaining Irish banks will have a UK-born and UK-based chairman.

Shares in Bank of Ireland were little changed yesterday at 9.3c each.

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