Just don't mention the 'A' word
“Who benefits? The Barclay brothers’ net worth statement, not the shareholder of the bank,” he says.
IBRC was also drawn into controversy over the sale of Siteserv, the construction services business, to a Denis O’Brien company for €45.5 million in a deal criticised by a potential bidder who claimed they would have paid more.
Aynsley says he told Minister for Finance Michael Noonan that, for all the people who are successful in buying assets from the State-owned bank, there is a bigger list of people who lost out.
“They are not always happy they have lost and they will question the process with a view of opening it up again, so that they can get in and put something else on the table,” he says.
Aynsley declines to say how McKillen and O’Brien, two of the bank’s biggest borrowers, are meeting a repayment schedule to reduce their debts to the bank.
He defends the bank for having a close relationship with them both.
“We want to work with them on a consensual basis to have these facilities paid down so that we can eventually close the bank. It is a simple process, so it is natural that we have this,” he says.
He believes criticism of the bank arises from battles the two businessmen are involved in that have little to do with it. “You pick McKillen, who is in a fight with the Barclay brothers. O’Brien, who is having fights with [the] O’Reilly [family], who has been involved in the Moriarty tribunal. I don’t know who they are – I am not Irish, and I wasn’t involved during that period and I haven’t gone back and researched it all,” says Aynsley.
“But there are a lot of people behind the doors that have knives in their hands and are just waiting for Denis to walk past so that they can throw one in his back. When they hear that Denis is buying something from the bank and he has bid through an open process, they make assertions that ‘Gee, something must be wrong – the relationship is really close’. It is like throwing a knife in his back and it is one in ours as well.”
Another target for critics is Aynsley’s pay at IBRC. His total pay has fallen from €974,000 in 2010 to €866,000 last year. The package will fall again to about €660,000, this year as relocation and related expense allowances associated with his move from Australia end.
Despite the reduction, it still makes him Ireland’s highest paid public servant, given that IBRC is owned by the State.
There is ongoing pressure on him to reduce his pay, he says, and he understands it, but believes IBRC is doing a good job recovering money for the State and that management “deserve to be remunerated for it”.
IBRC can’t offer incentives to staff or a long-term career, as the bank is in wind-down, he says.
“On a comparative basis to public authorities, we are highly paid, but we don’t do a normal public authority job. We run a bank and we run recovery activities as bankers. I think on a comparative basis across the industry, we are probably not much above the lower rung,” he says.
Aynsley and his staff are, like the officials in Nama, in the unusual position where the better they do their job, the quicker they will be out of a job. After three years at the bank, will he stay for another three? Aynsley says he will stay for as long as he can help recover money for the State.
“I will be here as long as I can add value and as long as the State feels that they are getting value out of me. Right now, I find the job stimulating. There is still a lot to do,” he says.
He accepts it can be stressful, and that he faces the added public and political pressures that come with cleaning up the mess left behind by Ireland’s worst bank.
This has led to IBRC hiring security men to tail Aynsley and another senior executive as the bank deals with highly fraught cases involving financially distressed customers. He is nonplussed by this, even if it is a first in his 34-year career in banking.
“That is unusual for a banker, but you just do it,” he says.
Name: Mike Aynsley
Position: Chief Executive, Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, which was formerly Anglo Irish Bank
Family: Married to Belinda, they have three sons and a daughter
Homes: Dublin and Sydney
Hobbies: Hiking, fine wines
Education: He has an MBA degree from the Macquerie University Graduate School of Management in Sydney, Australia
Career: He started in banking at the commonwealth Bank of Australia in 1978 before joining Banque Nationale de Paris and later Amsterdam Rotterdam Bank. He moved to Security Pacific National Bank in 1992 and National Australia Bank in 1999, where he was general manager of the global markets division in global wholesale financial services.
After five years working as a partner in banking and financial services at accountants Deloitte, he joined Australian and New Zealand Banking Group in 2005, where he was chief risk officer of ANZ Bank NZ and National Bank of NZ and later a senior executive with the bank, based in Sydney. He worked for three years as a consultant before joining Anglo Irish Bank on September 7th, 2009
Something you might expect: He has spent 10 years working outside Australia with stints in the UK, Japan, New Zealand and Ireland.
Something that might surprise: His grandfather was a regional manager with what is now the Commonwealth Bank of Australia; it’s why Aynsley became a banker