WALSH'S RESIGNATION LEAVES NATIONWIDE MEMBERS IN A 'VACUUM' - The Chairman of the Irish Nationwide Building Society Michael Walsh unexpectedly resigned last night. The building society has been at the centre of questionable loan arrangements involving the former Chairman of the now nationalised Anglo Irish Bank. Dr Michael Walsh is an executive director of International Investment and Underwriting (IIU), a private equity firm owned by his close associate Dermot Desmond.
Brendan Burgess has been a longtime member of Nationwide and has tried to get appointed to the board in the past. He founded personal finance website Askaboutmoney. com and he has also served on the consultative panel of the Financial Regulator.
Mr Burgess says that Dr Walsh has been a director of Irish Nationwide for about 15 or 16 years and has been chairman for the past ten years. He says this is a long time for any such appointment, especially for the Irish Nationwide. He says the resignation has left Nationwide members in an total vacuum. He says if a chairman of a quoted company resigned, a statement would have been issued to the stock exchange outlining the reasons behind the resignation. As a member of the Irish Nationwide he says he can not get any more information and says he is very concerned at the turn of events.
FIRMS JUST PAYING 'LIP-SERVICE' TO VOLUNTARY CODE - According to research carried out by business advisory firm Grant Thornton, half of Irish companies do not comply fully with the Combined Code on Corporate Governance, a code which is a condition of listing on the Irish Stock Exchange. The research shows that boards are failing to implement best practice in relation to the composition and independence of the board of directors. They are not disclosing to shareholders the possible risks to their business and how they are going to address them.
Grant Thornton partner Paul Raleigh says that companies are paying lip-service to the spirit and values of the code, by doing just enough to comply with its provisions.
He says there is plenty of people with competence and ability to sit on boards but stresses that companies should put competence ahead of comradery.
In relation to Dr Walsh's resignation, Mr Raleigh says that there is no legal obligation on any company chairman to say any more than he is resigning. However, he adds that the first duty of a director is to act in the best interests of the company at all times. He assumes there will be an internal communication of Dr Walsh's decision and the reason for his going will come out in the 'fullness of time'.