Considerable changes at Anglo - Dukes

Wednesday 16 June 2010 22.35
Anglo Irish Bank - Chairman and CEO at committee
Anglo Irish Bank - Chairman and CEO at committee

The chairman of Anglo Irish Bank has said the bank has changed considerably since it was covered by the State guarantee in September 2008.

Alan Dukes said the bank has taken very seriously the wishes that there should be changes in its structure.

Mr Dukes said there is now a new board in place, a new management team, and a new chief risk officer.

He was speaking in front of the Joint Oireachtas Finance and Public Service Committee.

Mr Dukes said the key objectives are to stabilise the bank, maximise its loan recovery and cooperate with all investigations into it.

He said the new banking entity that will emerge from Anglo Irish Bank will need to be re-branded to emphasise that it will be a 'different animal' to Anglo.

Mr Dukes said the new bank will be a medium sized commercial entity.

The Chairman said he hopes the European Commission will agree with the bank's restructuring plan so the split can be proceeded with.

Mr Dukes also said the investigation by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement will not be lengthened because of the bank's decision to claim privilege on certain documents.

Meanwhile, the bank's Chief Executive Officer Mike Aynsley said 'the lion's share' of the €22bn, which will be put into the bank by the taxpayer, will never be seen again.

He told the committee that the bank is working on finalising its restructuring plan over the next two to three months.

He said that costs have been cut by 18% at the bank and it has completed its plan to implement 290 voluntary redundancies.

He said the headcount at the bank before it was nationalised stood at 1,800.

This is now down to 1,200 through voluntary redundancies and natural attrition.

He says that the bank has actually hired back about 200 staff in recent times.

Transparency

Echoing remarks by Mr Dukes, he said the bank is now a very different organisation since it was nationalised.

He said the bank is focusing on its risk management and is opening up transparency to levels never seen before at Anglo Irish Bank.

It is also implementing best practice initiatives and has had independent reviews of all its areas - risk management, finance, technology and HR.

On the National Asset Management Agency, Mr Aynsley said the bank remains supportive and committed to NAMA and added that it will move the second tranche of loans to the agency by the end of the month.

He also said the bank is working on recovering loans in Ireland, the UK and US and has taken on specialist experts to deal with problem areas.

The bank's chief financial officer Maarten Van Eden gave the Committee an update on the current capital situation at the bank.

Referring to its annual report released in March, he said it made 'horrendous reading'.

He said that Anglo did make some money in a very limited way last year, and is working closely with the Department of Finance on its recapitalisation.

He warned that more pain is to come, however, as markets have not yet stabilised.

He said more will be known when the discount of the next tranche of loans is agreed.

He said it would have cost around €42bn to wind down Anglo over a year long period and added that the cost would reduce over a longer period.

The first tranche of loans went to NAMA with a bigger than expected discount of 55%.

Dukes and Ross clash

There were some heated exchanges between the Mr Dukes and Independent Senator Shane Ross.

Senator Ross questioned the recent appointment of two board members to the bank.

He said it was particularly worrying that one appointment - Gary Kennedy - had in the past been in charge of risk at AIB.

Senator Ross also questioned the hiring of former Fianna Fáil senator Aidan Eames.

Things got heated when Mr Dukes alluded to Senator Ross' column in the Sunday Independent.

Mr Dukes said the senator reminded him of those 'who forget nothing, and learn nothing.'