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News : Irish Last Updated: Apr 24, 2009 - 5:31:05 PM

Fingleton to resign from Irish Nationwide Building Society
By Finfacts Team
Apr 2, 2009 - 2:47:10 PM

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Michael Fingleton
The chief executive of the Irish Nationwide Building Society, Michael Fingleton, is to resign at the end of April.

Fingleton developed the small society to become a mainly commercial property lender in recent years. He had hoped to have the mutual society sold in a trade sale and in 2006, the then Minister for Finance Brian Cowen ensured that a provision in 1989 building societies legislation would be changed to facilitate him. A year later, the credit crisis put an end to the sale plans.

Some 45% of the commercial property loan book of €10 billion, relates to loans for property in London.

Fingleton took control of Irish Nationwide in the early 1970s and used the media to build the profile of the business. It is said loan applications from journalists in the Dublin newspapers and the State broadcaster RTÉ, were generally fast-tracked by Fingleton, as he skillfully exploited the opportunities for free publicity.

The formal announcement of Fingleton's retirement today, had been expected after he had come under pressure to resign over a €1m bonus.

Fingleton's move follows pressure from the Government on Irish Nationwide to change the structure of the building society's board and how it operates at executive level.

Irish Nationwide said that non-executive director Daniel Kitchen will become non-executive chairman of the Society, having turned down the position of CEO because of the Government's proposal to cap top bankers' pay.

The Covered Institution Remuneration Oversight Committee (CIROC) had recommended a cap of €360,000 for the Nationwide head.

A statement from Irish Nationwide says that while the search for a new CEO goes on, Kitchen will assume the position of chief executive in the short term.

The building society board also said it hopes to amend the rules at its next Annual General Meeting to increase the number of directors from eight to ten. It thanked the 72-year old Fingleton for his "enormous and unique" contribution to the society over the past 37 years.

Last week he agreed to repay his €1 million bonus for 2008.

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