PTSB chairman leaves but issues remain for mortgage holders

Alan Cook moves on while chief executive Jeremy Masding is making the tough calls

Jeremy Masding and Alan Cook: Cook described his time at  Permanent TSB as a “tumultuous journey”. Photograph: Alan Betson

Jeremy Masding and Alan Cook: Cook described his time at Permanent TSB as a “tumultuous journey”. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

After six years as chairman of Permanent TSB, Alan Cook will take his leave of the bank this month and hand the reins over to fellow British man Robert Elliott.

His time with PTSB was a “tumultuous journey” with some €2.48 billion in accumulated losses racked up over the period. On the plus side, a quarter of the bank was sold to institutional investors in 2015 with €508.5 million in bailout funds repaid to the State at the same time.

Cook used his final annual report statement as chairman to provide some reflections on his time with the lender.

“The financial crisis which engulfed all the banks in Ireland should never have occurred,” he said. “It exacted an enormous toll on many people including, of course, shareholders and staff in all the banks.

“Most seriously, it exacted a terrible toll on the citizens of Ireland, many of whom continue to struggle with the legacy of a decade of poor decision-making. These are the real victims of this crash and they must be foremost in our thoughts. As a community, Ireland must do all it can to help those who continue to struggle in the aftermath of this crisis.”

Few would disagree with his analysis. The victims referred to by Cook in his statement also presumably include many, if not all of the 13,000 mortgage account holders who have “untreated” non-performing mortgage loans with PTSB.

Their day of reckoning might not be far off, given the language used by PTSB chief executive Jeremy Masding in his own annual report statement.

“For those customers where we believe there is no reasonable prospect of affordability, or where there is no engagement with us, regrettably, we will be forced to seek alternative solutions to recover the outstanding capital,” he said.

Masding wasn’t ruling anything in or anything out when quizzed on the issue at a media briefing on Wednesday.

The options open to the bank include repossessions or the sale of the mortgages to so-called vulture funds.

Such moves would be highly provocative given that PTSB is 75 per cent State-owned and there is little appetite among politicians to put people out of their homes. Cook might have timed his departure perfectly.

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