Business Irish

Saturday 16 December 2017

Where are they now?: David Went


David Went's exit from Irish Life & Permanent (IL&P) was a model of perfect timing. He gave up the CEO's job in May 2007, comfortably before the banking crisis of 2008.

He left Ireland's top bancassurance operation in good nick, with no hint of the problems that were to sink his successors. Indeed his supporters insist that the unfortunate events that hit IL&P two years later would never have happened under his stewardship.

Whatever the truth of the speculation, the optics are good. On the day Went left, IL&P shares stood at €20. Today they've sunk to €1.47.

If that causes him professional satisfaction, he has not escaped personal pain. If he still holds the 267, 000 shares he had acquired by 2006, he will today be nursing losses little short of €5m.

Since his retirement the business world has come looking for him. He served his mandatory spell at troubled semi-state health insurer the VHI, but holds the far more prestigious position of chairman of Irish Times Ltd.

The Government too came looking for Went's talents when he agreed to chair the Central Bank's industry panel. The gig proved short-lived after new Central Bank legislation abolished it, prompting protests from the ex-banker that there was no longer anyone to promote the interests of the financial services centre or to counter the bad name of Irish banking.

As a sideline, he chairs the Trinity Foundation, a pro bono position where he leads his alma mater's crusade for cash from global corporations.

Few are better placed to open corporate doors in this difficult environment than the former Ulster Bank and Coutts banker who departed the Irish banking world without a blemish. In his leisure hours he can be found perfecting a vicious backhand at Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club.

Sunday Independent

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