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Two new appointments to AIB board as O'Connor steps down

THE Financial Regulator is already working through a list of potential candidates for senior posts at AIB -- but it could take months to get clearance for new appointments.

The update on the process comes as the bank announced yesterday that its executive chairman, Dan O'Connor, is stepping down with immediate effect.

Mr O'Connor agreed his resignation with the Government in the early hours of September 30, when AIB's nationalisation became a near-certainty, after the Financial Regulator raised the bank's capital targets.

Yesterday's AIB announcement also confirmed that two new appointments were being made to the bank's board -- Intel Ireland boss Jim O'Hara and Catherine Woods, a former JP Morgan executive.

Sources last night stressed that both Mr O'Hara and Ms Woods were "AIB appointees" who had been tapped by the bank before the dramatic events of September 30.

"You're not going to have (new) government appointees for a while yet," said one source.

"The difficulty is that it takes time to get people through the Financial Regulator's (fitness and probity) process."

The three recent appointments to Anglo Irish Bank's board are understood to have taken "about two months" to get through that fitness and probity test.


A spokeswoman for the regulator said the timeline for the process, which governs both executive and board-level appointments, would vary from case to case.

The appointments could be greatly speeded up for candidates who are already in roles with regulated entities, such as insurers and banks, since they may already be "pre-approved".

Assessing the suitability of candidates not already working in financial services or not already working in Ireland could take significantly longer.

Earlier in the week, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan told Bloomberg that his agents had "already been in touch with a number of individuals" about filling senior-managerial roles.

It is understood that some of these names have already been supplied to the regulator. Names for other senior appointments and non-executive directorships may also have been submitted.

While the new appointees to the board were not chosen by the Government, sources said there was "no sense" that any objections would be raised.

The State could be left owning as much as 92.5pc of AIB by the end of the year.

However, one source said: "Even then, you'd still have to have some representation for the other shareholders."

Two non-executive directors have stepped down since September 30.

Managing director Colm Doherty is also due to bow out, with sources suggesting that this could happen "over the coming weeks".

After that, there will be just two directors who were there before September 30 and are not Government appointees -- namely Invest Northern Ireland chair Stephen Kingon and UK banker David Pritchard

Despite signalling "changes" in AIB's board and management, the Government is not expected to immediately move against either director.

AIB yesterday paid tribute to Mr O'Connor's contribution to the bank, praising his "leadership and commitment through such a difficult period in the company's history".

Irish Independent