Bank of Ireland CEO Boucher to Retire After Crisis Comeback

  • Boucher to remain CEO until directors find replacement
  • Bank of Ireland appointed Boucher CEO in February 2009

Bank of Ireland Plc Chief Executive Officer Richie Boucher, who took over amid the nation’s worst economic crisis in living memory and helped the lender recover from a bailout, intends to step down.

Boucher, 58, will remain in charge of Bank of Ireland while the board seeks a new CEO, the Dublin-based company said in a statement Friday. He took the top job in February 2009 just as the country’s real estate market imploded, after heading retail and corporate banking at the firm and working at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s Irish unit until 2003.

Richie Boucher

Photographer: Julien Behal/Press Association via AP Photos

“Boucher’s leaving be a big loss to the bank given his strong and steady leadership over the last eight years, in particular his willingness to act as a lightning rod for the rest of the bank when coming under political pressure,” said Owen Callan, an analyst with Investec Plc in Dublin.

The departure of the CEO will mark an end of an era for the Irish banking system, which needed a 64-billion euro ($69 billion) state bailout amid the crisis. His rivals at other rescued lenders including Allied Irish Banks Plc and Permanent TSB Group Holdings Plc departed years ago while competitors Anglo Irish Bank Corp. and Irish Nationwide have since been shut down.

“I feel it best for the group that someone else leads the group’s next stage of development,” Boucher said in the statement. “This has influenced my decision to retire from the group at this time, and to focus on the other things which I might like to do with my life.”

In 2014, Boucher vowed to return to the bank following surgery to remove part of his colon after an early-stage cancerous growth was detected. The bank’s shares traded down 1.3 percent at 3:18 p.m. in Dublin, valuing the bank at 7.6 billion euros.

“He did a very good job, taking over the bank when it was in a very difficult position at the start of this decade and steering it through,” said Eamonn Hughes, an analyst at Goodbody Stockbrokers. “He kept the bank out of state ownership, rebuilt its capital base and made good progress on the bad loans, which have probably halved from the peak.”

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