Bank of Ireland has €1bn fund for property development lending
New chief executive Francesca McDonagh has made rebuilding trust in the bank a ‘personal priority’
Francesca McDonagh, chief executive, Bank of Ireland: “My focus is on rebuilding trust in Bank of Ireland.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times
Bank of Ireland has a €1 billion fund available for property development lending in the Republic, its new chief executive, Francesca McDonagh has told The Irish Times.
Speaking to the Inside Business podcast, Ms McDonagh said this compared with some €250 million that it made available in 2014, as the bank seeks to play its part in solving the housing crisis here.
“This year we have financed 3,500 housing units and over 1,500 student beds and we’re very well positioned to grow that quite significantly in the year ahead,” she said. “Our strategy around housebuilding is to enable the acquisition of land that is ‘shovel ready’ to encourage proper house building ... as opposed to land hoarding.”
Ms McDonagh also revealed that she has made resolving the tracker issue scandal a “personal priority” as she seeks to rebuild trust in the lender.
“Towards the end of October I made the decision to increase the number of customers that we would be looking to redress and compensate and my focus is very much on getting that done as quickly as possible,” she said.
“Our customers and those impacted want to see a line drawn [under the issue]. They want to have certainty that they’ve been treated fairly, given the right compensation and redress, and that is absolutely my intent.
“I have made this a personal priority since I started and gave a personal commitment to the Minister [for finance Paschal Donohoe] that I would sort it out. I can only repeat the apology... about the upset, the anxiety, the frustration this has caused. My focus is on rebuilding trust in Bank of Ireland and drawing a line under this issue.”
In November Bank of Ireland said 6,000 additional accounts had been identified as needing redress as part of the Central Bank of Ireland’s tracker mortgage examination. This brought to 14,500 the number of Bank of Ireland customers impacted by the issue since 2010.
Ms McDonagh, whose father’s family hails from Carraroe in Co Galway, took over as Bank of Ireland chief executive at the beginning of October. “I’m enjoying living here, I’m enjoying working here. It’s not without its challenges but Bank of Ireland has an amazing history and heritage and also a fantastic future in my opinion.”