The State’s shareholding in Bank of Ireland was cut from over 42% to just 15% last year, on the back of a combined €1.12bn investment by five international investment firms — WL Ross, Fairfax Financial Holdings, Fidelity Investments, the Capital Group, and Kennedy Wilson. The consortium has a combined shareholding of 34.96% in the bank.
WL Ross head Wilbur Ross and Fairfax chief executive and chairman Prem Watsa have now been appointed to the Bank of Ireland board.
Outgoing Bank of Ireland chairman/governor Pat Molloy said the two investors’ personal involvement in the bank marks a major vote of confidence in both the group and in Ireland.
“At the time of our recapitalisation last year, we indicated that we would anticipate welcoming representatives from certain new shareholders to our board,” he said.
“They will each, individually, bring their extensive international expertise, business acumen, and skills to assist the development of our strategic ambition for the group and how we meet both the challenges and the opportunities the group faces.”
On a busy day for appointments at Bank of Ireland, the group also unveiled former Lloyds Banking group executive director, Archie Kane, as its next governor.
Mr Kane will succeed Mr Molloy — who chaired his last AGM of the bank in April — at the end of this month.
For his part, Mr Kane noted the progress made by the bank — mainly in terms of reducing its costs, raising capital, and remaining outside of the full clutches of State ownership — at what he called an important time for the bank and the Irish economy.
“The bank recognises that there is more to be done in restoring profitability and in achieving its strategic objectives — and, in so doing, contributing positively to the economies in which the bank operates, particularly the Irish economy,” Mr Kane said.