Second ESB senior executive announces intention to quit

 

A second senior executive has left the ESB in the space of a month. Mr Larry Donald, company secretary and head of corporate affairs, will leave the company at the end of August to pursue other opportunities and interests, the company said.

Mr Donald (52), who joined the ESB in 1968, has held a number of senior posts in the company's corporate communications area over the past 16 years. He was appointed public relations manager in 1986, corporate affairs manager in 1994 and company secretary and head of corporate affairs in 1997.

ESB chief executive designate Mr Padraig McManus said he wished Mr Donald well in his career.

"Larry Donald has had a very distinguished career with the ESB and has made an enormous contribution to the company, particularly in the corporate communications area where his skills and expertise are well recognised, both inside and outside the ESB," he said.

Mr Donald's decision to leave follows that of Mr Dónal Curtin, director of international investments at the State company, to leave in July. Mr Curtin was one of two internal candidates in the final shake-out of the race to succeed Mr Ken O'Hara as chief executive. His internal rival, Mr McManus, was appointed at a board meeting in February after a special sub-committee failed to agree on a preferred candidate.

The latest departure comes at a crucial time for the ESB. A revision of the company's strategic plan will be put to a board meeting on June 25th. Any new strategy must reflect the ownership plan adopted by the new Government, particularly if it decides to pursue privatisation.

It must also prepare the company for further liberalisation of the electricity market. With the ESB facing competition for industrial customers in 40 per cent of the market, its market share is likely to diminish further when the market is fully opened in 2005.

In addition to competition for electricity customers, the ESB is no longer the sole generator of electricity in the market.

A degree of uncertainty also surrounds the company's international ambitions, following the Government's decision last June which forced it to withdraw from a competition to buy eight power- supply firms in Poland for €1.8 billion within hours of the deadline for a binding bid. The new strategy will have to address the manner in which the company now plans to expand internationally.

The company is also in the process of spending €2.5 billion replacing ageing infrastructure throughout the State. At the same time, it is cutting staff by 2,000 to 6,000 under its PACT programme.