Coillte plucks former political adviser Leamy from Terra Firma

Company without chief executive since 2013

Coillte, the State forestry and landowning company, has hired a former adviser to the Minister for Agriculture as its new chief executive.

The company has appointed Fergal Leamy, currently a director of Guy Hands' London private equity company Terra Firma, as permanent replacement for its interim chief executive Gerard Britchfield.

Coillte operates under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture, whose minister, Simon Coveney, co-owns the company. Mr Leamy was a special advisor to Minister Coveney for a five-month period in 2011, before leaving for Terra Firma. Prior to working with the minister, Mr leamy ran the US division of Greencore, whose chief executive is Patrick Coveney.

John Moloney, the chairman of Coillte, said Mr Leamy was appointed following a "very comprehensive process".

“The breadth of his experience in relevant sectors will be a significant asset to the future development of Coillte,” said Mr Moloney.

Coillte has been without a permanent chief executive since the 2013 departure of David Gunning, who clashed with the Government over the pay cap for semi state chief executives.

It is understood that Mr Leamy’s pay at Coillte “fully complies” with the salary cap, which for Coillte is set at about €191,000.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is Business Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Caveat column