Bank of Ireland has looked outside the country to appoint Francesca McDonagh —who holds one of the most senior jobs in Britain and Europe at HSBC.
Her appointment as chief executive will mark the first time a woman has led a major Irish bank.
She takes over in October from Richie Boucher, who announced earlier this year that he planned to leave the bank after 14 years.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan indicated that any new “high-calibre external candidate” at Bank of Ireland would be paid the same as the outgoing chief executive. Including a €234,000 pension contribution, Mr Boucher was paid a total of €958,000 in 2016.
“The appointment of the new CEO of Bank of Ireland is welcomed by the Minister for Finance,” said a spokesman.
Bank of Ireland, which is still 14% owned by the Government, received €4.8bn from taxpayers but was nonetheless the only Irish lender to avoid outright nationalisation or closure.
Ms McDonagh, 42, is one of the leading female bankers in Europe. She is a noted campaigner against sexism in banking, where few women command top roles, and helped advise UK government initiatives to encourage more women to top jobs in the City.
As head of HSBC’s retail banking and wealth management division in the UK and Europe, she was responsible for 1,000 branches, as well as M&S Bank, owned by HSBC.
Like other banks in the UK and Ireland that have cited the increased demand by customers for online services, she has overseen the closure of branches across England and Wales.
Recruited in its graduate intake, Ms McDonagh has worked at HSBC for 20 years. She previously held top positions at HSBC in the Middle East, North Africa, and Hong Kong.
Governor Archie Kane described her as an “exceptional candidate”. Her appointment may be key to Bank of Ireland’s operations in Britain where it has a large venture with the UK Post Office. She will face the challenges of boosting the bank’s profitability and preparing for a promised resumption of a dividend.
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