Bank of Ireland shareholders vent anger at executive pay

Lender says loan portfolio continues to perform in line with expectations

 

A number of Bank of Ireland shareholders vented their anger about the remuneration of chairman Archie Kane and chief executive Richie Boucher at the company's annual meeting in Dublin's Burlington Hotel today, which turned into a three-hour marathon.

This included Independent TD for Dublin South Shane Ross, who questioned the €490,000 that Mr Kane will receive from the bank annually (he became Governor in June 2012) and the €843,000 package awarded last year to Mr Boucher.

"Nobody [among the board of directors] has taken a beating at all," Mr Ross said. "Everyone out here has taken a beating for five years."

Mr Ross called on Mr Kane to volunteer to cut his remuneration in half.

Late in the meeting two shareholders engaged in a fiery and bizarre verbal exchange over who had the right to ask the next question. "You don't want me to go over to you there please," said one of the shareholders.

Mr Kane said Bank of Ireland would meet the Central Bank of Ireland's targets on dealing with customers in mortgage arrears. He said 90 per cent of its mortgage customers were meeting the terms of their loans and for those in arrears, "repossession is only an extreme last resort".

He said a "thorough review" was being undertaken by the bank to address its €1.2 billion pension deficit.

Mr Kane said the bank was also "fully focused" on the 25 per cent step-up in the Government's €1.8 billion in preference shares if they are not redeemed before the end of next March and was looking at a "range of possible solutions" for this.

In an interim statement, released earlier, the bank said it had not experienced any adverse impact on deposits since the cessation of the bank guarantee scheme.

The scheme, which protected deposits over €100,000 in covered institutions, ended last month.

“We were prepared for the expiry of the ELG (Eligible Liabilities Guarantee) and have not experienced any adverse impacts on our deposit volumes since the expiry of the scheme,” the bank said.

“It remains our expectation that the cost of the ELG will reduce quickly, thereby positively impacting on the group’s income,” it added.

In its statement, the bank said its loan portfolios, including those relating to mortgage and SME customers, continued to perform in line with expectations.

It said it expected loan impairment charges to reduce from their “current elevated levels” to a more normalised impairment charge as the Irish economy recovers.

The bank said management of operating costs remained a key priority, noting the cost reduction impact of the departure of 1,200 staff during the second half of 2012 under the current redundancy scheme.

Customer deposits have remained stable in line with the €75 billion reported at the end of last year, according to the bank.

It also said the group had achieved its “steady state” loan volume target of €90 billion and this, together with deposit volumes, had resulted in the targeted loan-to-deposit ratio of 120 per cent being achieved ahead of time.