Richie Boucher is to step down as Bank of Ireland chief executive later this year, after more than eight years in the role.
The bank announced on Friday that Mr Boucher had informed the company of his intention to leave and said a selection process was under way to appoint a new CEO. Mr Boucher said he would would continue in his role “pending completion” of this process, having led the bank since February 2009.
Mr Boucher said that while he enjoyed his job and was excited about the group’s “transformational investment” in its IT systems, the time was right to hand over the baton.
“I will be 59 in August of this year and I feel it best for the group that someone else leads the next stage of development,” he said. “This has influenced my decision to retire at this time, and to focus on the other things which I might like to do with my life.”
Group chief financial officer Andrew Keating and Liam McLoughlin, chief executive of its retail business in Ireland, would be regarded as the leading internal candidates to replace Mr Boucher, with chief operating officer Lewis Love a possible contender.
Des Crowley, who heads the bank's UK division and is 57, and Michael Torpey, who heads the corporate and treasury division and who will be 58 next month, are not expected to be in the mix.
The bank is also likely to consider external candidates. John Hourican, the Irish chief executive of Bank of Cyprus, could be a contender while David Duffy, the former AIB CEO and now head of the Clydesdale and Yorkshire bank, would be a leftfield candidate.
Mr Boucher’s departure will also raise question as to the salary level that will be offered to a successor. He earned €690,000 in salary last year, outside the Government’s €500,000 salary cap.
It will be interesting to see if the bank pushes to offer a salary outside the scope of the cap, and possibly even a bonus or incentive arrangement to the new CEO, given that Bank of Ireland is only 14 per cent State-owned, is profitable and on track to resume dividend payments next year.
Commenting on Mr Boucher's decision, Archie Kane, governor of Bank of Ireland, said: "Since his appointment as group CEO in February 2009, Richie has led the group through very difficult times. He has demonstrated extraordinary and exemplary personal commitment to the group and has brought to everything he has done a clarity of direction and unrelenting focus.
“The group has been recapitalised, has fully repaid the Irish taxpayer the amount the State invested in it with a cash profit and faces the future in a robust and profitable position.
“Richie’s commitment continues in his willingness to work with the board to facilitate the transition to his successor, whom the board will appoint in due course following the selection process. We are extremely grateful to him.”
The Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, thanked Mr Boucher for his "commitment, professionalism and drive" in the role and wished him well in his future activities.