Burgess wants seat on Nationwide board

BRENDAN BURGESS, who has campaigned for reform of the Irish Nationwide Building Society, is seeking election to the society’s board of directors.

Mr Burgess said that if demutualisation of the society goes ahead later this year it was vital that members are represented on the board.

The Government are preparing legislation that paves the way for the two remaining building societies - Irish Nationwide and the EBS - to float on the stock market or be sold to another institution.

While the EBS favours its mutual status, Irish Nationwide has been under pressure from some members to sell out or float. Either move would mean windfall bonuses for its thousands of members.

Mr Burgess, who has led the campaign for demutualisation with fellow member Shane Hogan, said that when it takes place without an immediate stock market flotation or trade sale, members will receive a shareholding in an unquoted company and he wants to be on the board so that members’ interests are fully represented.

The only potential seat available on the board at this year’s annual general meeting in April is that held by Michael Walsh, the society’s chairman, who has been a director for 10 years.

Mr Burgess said that Irish Nationwide “will have to get its house in order” before it is an attractive acquisition target. A stock market flotation is an unlikely option given it is a relatively small institution.

He said the society will have to seriously address the many problems of disgruntled borrowers and the number of outstanding legal cases against it.

“I will work to get maximum value for members in the demutualisation/sale process and to make this happen as soon as possible,” Mr Burgess said.

The unseating of Mr Walsh, a close associate of Dermot Desmond, will be a difficult task.

Last year a vote of no confidence in the society’s long-serving chief executive Michael Fingleton attracted 20% of the total vote.

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