Shareholders vent anger at BoI EGM

 

Bank of Ireland shareholders have passed a vote on the plan to recapitalise the bank with €3.5 billion through preference shares and the granting of warrants to the National Pensions Reserve Fund to subscribe for up to 25 per cent of ordinary shares in the bank.

During a heated extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in Dublin shareholders passed the plan which has restrictions on the payment of dividends and curbs on executives' pay, among other conditions.

Chief executive Richie Boucher insisted the Government's plan would be "sufficient" to sustain the bank.

Mr Boucher defended the plan for a state bailout but admitted the bank had failed to respond in time to the bursting of the property bubble as shareholders chanted “go go go” at the group’s board.

"We know the risks we have on our books...If we take the steps we are taking now in terms of capital, funding and managing risk in the balance sheet, the recovery will come," Mr Boucher told shareholders at the Savoy Cinema today.

The new chief executive said the Government's bailout was sufficient to boost its capital reserves, but it could still take a long time for full recovery.

"Bank of Ireland has problems. However, it is a fundamentally sound business worthy of trust," Chief Executive Richie Boucher told investors after apologising for recent steep share losses.

"We believe that the amount of capital we are obtaining is sufficient," Mr Boucher said.

This evening Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan welcomed the results of the vote and said he would be directing the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission with a view to making the €3.5 billion investment on Tuesday 31st March.

During the debate a representative of Dermot Desmond, who owns around 1 per cent of the bank, read out a letter calling for an overhaul of the board and expressed doubts the bailout would suffice.

"The market and everyone here knows that irrespective of what we decide today further restructuring will likely be required," Mr Desmond said in the letter greeted with applause.

Many others among the more than 700 retail investors crammed into the Savoy Cinema for the meeting echoed Mr Desmond's criticism that the bank's leadership should not have appointed a new chief executive from within their ranks.

Mr Boucher was head of the group's Irish retail operations at the height of a real estate boom and still holds that position pending the appointment of a successor.

"I think it's disgraceful because he is one of the people who caused the problem. They need external blood," John Byrne, 65, the retired manager of a manufacturing company, said at the meeting as others briefly chanted "go, go, go".

Bank of Ireland shareholders have seen their investment decline in value by more than 95 per cent over the last year - from €10.19 to yesterday's close of €0.52. Its shares rose 3.9 percent to €0.54 in Dublin trading this morning.