FBD hires William Fry to investigate complaint against chief executive

Non-executive directors press for investigation to be completed within weeks

FBD Holdings chief executive Fiona Muldoon faces an investigation  being carried out on foot of a recent complaint by the company’s human resources director. Photograph: Eric Luke

FBD Holdings chief executive Fiona Muldoon faces an investigation being carried out on foot of a recent complaint by the company’s human resources director. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

FBD Holdings has commissioned law firm William Fry the carry out an investigate into internal allegations made against chief executive Fiona Muldoon, which the insurer disclosed was under way in a stock-exchange announcement last Friday.

It is understood that the non-executive directors of the board, led by chairman Liam Herlihy, are pressing for the investigation to be completed within a matter of weeks in order to draw a line under the matter.

The investigation is being carried out on foot of a recent complaint by the company’s human resources director, Sarah Ryan, against Ms Muldoon. Ms Ryan had joined the company last September from Permanent TSB.

When the complaint was made, FBD, as Ireland’s only publicly-quoted indigenous insurance company, decided to create an “insider list” of individuals that were aware of the potentially market-moving matter.

FBD was forced to issue a stock exchange announcement on Friday evening after the Sunday Times went to the company with questions on the issue.

A spokesman for FBD declined to comment, while Ms Ryan could not be reached for comment.

The market value of FBD has dipped by 1.4 per cent to €362.3 million – in very thin share trading volumes – since news of the investigation broke.

Investment

Shares in FBD are up by almost 75 per cent to €10.45 each since Ms Muldoon led negotiations in September 2015 on a deal where Canadian investment firm Fairfax Financial made a €70 million investment in the Dublin-based company to bolster its capital levels as the Irish insurance industry was grappling with soaring claims costs.

Fairfax, which also made a rescue investment in Bank of Ireland at the height of the crisis, is entitled to convert its FBD investment into actual stock, by way of convertible bonds, from early next year at €8.50 per share.

Ms Muldoon, a senior Central Bank official between 2011 and 2014, joined FBD in March 2015 as chief financial officer following a number of profit warnings and disappointing financial reports at the company. She was named interim chief executive in July that year, succeeding Andrew Langford, before securing the top job on a permanent basis three months later.

The insurer this year paid its first dividend since 2014, as profits surged last year to €49.7 million from €11.4 million in 2016. That followed a period of heavy restructuring at the company, including the sale of property investments, scaling back the use or insurance brokers, hiking premiums and closing the company’s defined pension plan to future accrual.

FBD’s workforce has fallen by 15 per cent since 2015, with the group also going through raft of senior executive departures.