Nama chiefs face rejig


IT’S ALL change at the National Asset Management Agency as the Government’s “bad bank” has announced a sweeping reorganisation of its functions with a number of senior executives getting new roles.

Nama will now have five separate divisions: legal; finance; strategy and communications; asset management; and asset recovery. The head of each division will report directly to Nama’s chief executive Brendan McDonagh, which suggests they are being given equal weighting in the organisation.

The re-org sheds a bit of light on how the publicity-shy agency has been prioritising activity. Nama has had since its inception, and will continue to have, a separate legal division, which is headed up by NTMA veteran Aideen O’Reilly.

John Mulcahy, former chairman of auctioneers Jones Lang LaSalle, will become Nama’s head of asset management, having formerly been head of portfolio management.

Former Ulster Bank executive Ronnie Hanna is becoming head of asset recovery. His previous role was head of credit and risk.

Particularly telling, though, is that Nama is only now creating a chief financial officer post. The role is to be filled by a public procurement process and the successful candidate will oversee functions such as treasury, tax, audit and risk.

For an agency managing loans with a nominal value of €72.3 billion on behalf of the State one might wonder how Nama has managed without a CFO for its first two years?

Another long-term NTMA employee Sean Ó Faoláin heads up the fifth division – strategy and communications. Since inception Nama has employed PR man Ray Gordon to handle its dealings with the media but communications has not been one of its strong suits, with several accusations that the agency is far too secretive about its activities.

The issue of communications is a delicate balancing act for Nama. The Government is still nominally committed to extending the Freedom of Information Act to cover the agency. But on the flip side, under the legislation which founded the agency borrowers have the same right to confidentiality that they enjoyed when dealing with the banks.

Mr Ó Faoláin could find the communications part of his portfolio ends up taking up just as much of his time as the strategy role.