Hourican the Celt basks in a warm glow in Cyprus

Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 01:00

Former RBS investment banker John Hourican, now the chief executive of embattled Bank of Cyprus (BoC), wore a distinct air of satisfaction when I spoke to him during the week. Victory, even a preliminary one, will do that for a man.

The bank announced on Tuesday that investors including Wilbur Ross – he of Bank of Ireland fame – had committed to pumping €1 billion into the Cypriot institution to beef up its ratios following its near death experience last year.

Hourican pulled off the deal in three weeks from a standing start, all in the face of grumblings from the bank’s existing shareholders, including many Russian and local depositors “bailed in” as part of the bank’s bailout last March.

The new shares will be issued at 24c, valuing BoC, which is 80 per cent owned by the depositors, at half its book value. Depositors over €100,000 took a haircut of 47.5 per cent last year, and were surely hoping for some financial Rogaine this time, rather than what must feel like a blade one all over again.

“There are emotions from the shareholders, sure. But most of it comes from the fact that they were unfairly bailed-in in the first place,” said Hourican, with a generous dollop of political tact. He still has to get the deal past an emergency meeting of shareholders this month. That should be fun.

Ross, who made nearly €500 million profit on his Bank of Ireland investment, “sees the parallels” between his Irish and Cypriot bets, according to Hourican. The banker says he didn’t just lean on his contacts back home to tempt Ross into a deal, however. “I know Richie (Boucher, the BOI boss). But I didn’t just call him up and say, ‘Put me in touch with your mate Wilbur’.”

Euan Hamilton, whom Hourican plucked from RBS to help him sort out BoC, gave an extensive interview to a local newspaper recently. While explaining their business approach, he blurted: “Both myself and John are Anglo Saxons”.

I wonder what Hourican, a proud Dub, thought of that little beauty?

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.
From Monday 20th October 2014 we're changing how readers sign-in to comment, click here for more information.