Irish executive Mark Bourke named CEO at Portugal’s Novo Banco

Former AIB chief financial officer held similar role in Novo Banco for past three years

Former AIB chief financial officer Mark Bourke, who was hired three years ago to take on the same role at Portuguese lender Novo Banco, has been selected to become the Lisbon-based group's next chief executive.

Novo Banco, which emerged from the ruins of Banco Espirito Santo after the Portuguese bank's collapse in 2014, has been 75 per cent owned by US private equity giant Lone Star since 2017. Most of the remainder in the hands of the Portuguese Resolution Fund.

The bank said on Wednesday that its general and supervisory board had decided to promote Mr Bourke (55) to the chief executive role, succeeding current incumbent António Ramalho, subject to approval from supervisors in the Bank of Portugal and the European Central Bank (ECB).

Novo Banco said the board “considered Mark Bourke as the ideal candidate”, highlighting his over 20 years of senior executive experience in regulated financial institutions and the knowledge he has gained on the company and Portuguese market over the past three years.


Internal candidate

The board “also noted that the appointment of an internal candidate ensures continuity, stability as well as alignment of the [bank’s] recently approved strategic medium-term plan”, it said in a statement.

Novo Banco, which has almost €45 billion of assets, posted its first annual profit in 2021, with the net result coming to €185 million, following years of asset sales and delivering under an EU state-aid restructuring programme. Last year saw the bank sell €700 million of non-performing loans (NPLs), bringing its NPL ratio down to 5.7 per cent – compared to almost 22 per cent at the time Mr Bourke was hired from AIB.

The bank also sold its Spanish banking interests, including 10 branches and 172 staff, to Galicia-based lender Abanca in December for a symbolic price of €1. Novo Banco this week reported a €142 million profit for the first quarter of this year, double the figure posted for the same period in 2021.

AIB career

Mr Bourke served as chief financial officer of AIB between 2014 and 2019 and was a key figure in the bank's return to the main Dublin and London stock markets in 2017, when the Government raised €3.8 billion from the sale of a 28.8 per cent stake. He was succeed at AIB by Donal Galvin.

Prior his time with AIB, Mr Bourke, a PwC-trained chartered accountant and tax partner by background, served for eight years as chief executive of then Dublin-listed financial services group IFG.

The fixed salaries of Novo Banco’s chief executive and chief financial officer last year were €410,000 and €385,000, respectively, including deferred payments. The six-person executive team also secured up to €1.6 million of conditional bonus awards, payable subject to EU competition officials signing off on the bank meeting its restructuring commitments in recent years.

Mr Bourke's role as chief financial officer at Novo Banco is set to be backfilled by Leigh Bartlett, who has been chief executive of UK challenger lender Masthaven Bank for the past two years.

Novo Banco chairman Byron Haynes said the board believed that Mr Bourke and his team "will successfully deliver the next stage of Novo Banco's development, competing as a strong and independent Portuguese corporate and retail bank".

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times