Closing Bell: Changing chiefs, Trump tornadoes & AIB's public face

Newstalk business editor Vincent Wall casts a cold eye over the week that was...

Closing Bell: Changing chiefs, Trump tornadoes & AIB's public face

Picture by: Chris Radburn/PA Archive/PA Images

I wonder is she a Crystal Palace supporter?

Who knows, but it seems as though the newly-announced, incoming chief executive of Bank of Ireland grew up in Croydon, the South London suburb that also hosts the aforementioned Premier League outfit.

Francesca McDonagh may or may not be an Eagles fan but she’s certainly a high-flyer.

Aged just 42, she has 20 years of senior experience with global bank HSBC, including management roles in jurisdictions as diverse as Hong Kong, Mexico and Indonesia.

She now becomes the first female boss of a leading Irish retail bank where her relative youth, international perspective and digital experience will certainly shake up the relatively insular, male-dominated Irish banking world. Fair play to the board of Bank of Ireland for its ambitious choice.

Toland changes course

There was also the interesting choice of Kevin Toland – chief executive of semi-state airport authority, daa, for the past four years – as the new head of the troubled global bakery group, Aryzta.

Interesting in a number of ways, most notably in that the appointment will see him head back (at least in the short term) to a life lived in the business section of planes, the shop floors of major customers, and the boardrooms of key investors.

That’s the kind of life he left behind as head of Glanbia’s US nutrition and cheese businesses to take up a very different job and significantly lower salary at daa.


In some ways he’s been a lucky general at daa, where he presided over a period of strong economic recovery in Ireland and its major trading partners and that helped push traffic through Dublin Airport from 19m to 28m during his tenure.

But he also presided over the complex resolution of the daa/Aer Lingus pension scheme that enabled the sale of the airline, the strong recovery of activity in Cork and the effective management of tricky stakeholders such as Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary.

His full range of skills and wells of energy will be required at Cuisine de France-owner Aryzta, where chairman Gary McGann will no doubt be happy to rejoin forces with a former partner.

Toland’s latest adventure will see him spend much time in the US, where many of Aryzta’s customers and investors are based.

Markets face Trump tornado

At this rate, it’s tough to tell who’ll be running the place by the time Toland begins his role later in the summer, with “The Donald” is certainly doing his best to keep us guessing.

His latest Russia-related bruising encounters with the intelligence, political and media establishments Stateside whipped up turbulent winds on equity, bond and currency markets that had been becalmed for many months.

It seemed by the end of the week that the two percentage point falls across all major US indices on Wednesday did represent merely a mild correction, at least until the next outburst or revelation from the White House, but the sudden market jitters must have caused some trepidation back home in Merrion Street and at AIB’s corporate home in Ballsbridge.

AIB puts its public face on

The imminent sale of a 25% tranche of the taxpayers’ 99.9% shareholding in the bank won’t be derailed by either a change of Finance Minister or a technical vote in the Dail, but it certainly could hit the buffers if markets on both sides of the Atlantic were to begin sliding rapidly.

That doesn’t look as though it’s going to happen, despite the best efforts of the Master of Doonbeg, and the month-long countdown process to the AIB IPO, should kick off next week.

Retail investors will be required to invest up to a minimum stake of €10,000 if they want to participate, though they may not get that full allocation if the demand from institutions proves particularly strong. As a recent Taoiseach might put it: "Let the games begin."

From broadcasting to new builds

They’ve also begun with respect of the race to acquire those highly-desired nine acres in Beverly Hills – sorry, we mean Donnybrook – on the RTÉ campus.

It seems a number of high profile developers and the impressive house-building firm, Cairn Homes have lined up in competition to build up to 500 apartments in Dublin 4 and to transform the former home of Wanderly Wagon into future homes for young professionals and their trading-down older equivalents.

They may need to pony up more than the current reserve price of €75m before they can begin shovelling.

Maybe Francesca McDonagh will lend a few bob to them...