State taps overseas expertise for AIB board

Deloitte partner Ann O’Brien and EFG executive Raj Singh to join on April 25th

AIB needed a €20.8 billion taxpayer bailout during the financial crisis. To date, it has repaid about €10.5 billion of that amount.

AIB needed a €20.8 billion taxpayer bailout during the financial crisis. To date, it has repaid about €10.5 billion of that amount.

 

The State has looked overseas to find two new members for the board of AIB, in which taxpayers retain a 71 per cent stake following the lender’s bailout during the financial crisis.

AIB said on Monday that Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe had nominated Ann O’Brien, an Irish native and former senior partner with Deloitte in New York, and Raj Singh, chief risk officer at Swiss private banking group EFG International, as non-executive directors at the bank.

The move follows a decision by the Government early last year to abandon the practice of appointing public interest directors to bailed-out banks, in favour of nominating candidates put through the standard Public Appointments Services process used by state bodies. The final public interest directors, who were appointed after taxpayers were forced to guarantee the financial system in 2008, stepped down from their respective institutions at the end of 2017.

Ms O’Brien and Mr Singh will join the board on April 25th, a day after the bank’s annual general meeting.

“We are delighted to welcome Ann and Raj to AIB,” said group chairman Richard Pym. “Their diverse and extensive experiences will enhance the board’s experience and skills profile.”

Public interest directors appointed to the boards of rescued banks during the crisis were primarily made up of former senior politicians and civil servants, including former Tanaiste Dick Spring, one-time secretary general of the Department of Finance Tom Considine and former Fianna Fail minister Ray MacSharry.

The two fresh appointments to AIB, therefore, mark a departure and fresh interest by the State in tapping overseas expertise to beef up the boards of rescued banks.

It is understood that the Minister’s officials plan to follow up the AIB non-executive appointments with two nominees to the board of Permanent TSB, in which the State retains a 75 per cent stake, and one independent director to the board of Bank of Ireland, which is almost 14 per cent taxpayer-owned.

Ms O’Brien, a past student of University College Dublin and Trinity College, Dublin, has over 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry, having lived and worked in the UK, Luxembourg, France and the US.

Mr Singh has 34 years’ business, risk and corporate governance experience gained across large complex financial services groups. He previously worked as chief risk officer at life insurer and asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen and at German insurance giant Allianz.

AIB needed a €20.8 billion taxpayer bailout during the financial crisis. To date, it has repaid about €10.5 billion of that amount.