Thursday 22 February 2018

Two internal candidates lead race to head up ESB


Emmet Oliver, Deputy Business Editor

THE appointment of a new ESB chief executive is imminent, with the race for the €318,000 post turning out to be far closer than anticipated after a series of interviews, the Irish Independent understands.

The board of the company is due to meet this week to hear from chairman Lochlann Quinn, who chaired a sub-committee to choose the successor to Padraig McManus.

While an external candidate cannot be entirely ruled out, the two front runners are understood to be John Shine, deputy chief executive, and the executive director for ESB's international operations Pat O'Doherty.

Once the board approves the appointment, an announcement is expected to be made shortly afterwards.

For ESB it would be unheard of for a chief executive to come from outside the company. But this time around there are complicating factors.

The announcement during the summer that a minority stake in the company will be sold in the New Year is believed to have convinced the sub-committee that external candidates, with market experience, should be seriously considered.

But, equally, candidates with no experience of the ESB's unique industrial relations culture are seen as having a major disadvantage.

Mr Shine, who has worked closely with Mr McManus over recent years, was the original front runner and was thought to be in a commanding position. But it is understood Mr O'Doherty has got some strong support too.

He also heads up the ESB's generation arm and knows its network business well.

Speculation that former ESB chief executive Bernard Byrne (now with AIB) was in the race were dismissed last night and the banker is not understood to have expressed an interest.

The issue that often causes tension for a chief executive -- pay -- is this time around set in stone following an announcement by the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin. Basic pay for the post has been set at €318,000 and no bonuses will be allowed.

The only additional benefits to the €318,000 will be pension entitlements and a company car.

Irish Independent

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