Francesca McDonagh appointed to senior role at Credit Suisse

Bank of Ireland’s departing CEO hails positive start to 2022 in trading statement but warns about threat of inflation

Bank of Ireland’s departing chief executive, Francesca McDonagh, has been named as Credit Suisse’s new head of European operations.

Ms McDonagh, whose departure in September was announced after markets closed on Tuesday, was named on Wednesday as part of a major executive reshuffle at the crisis-hit Swiss bank.

She will assume the role of chief executive for Europe, Middle East and Africa at the Swiss bank from October 1st and will be based in Zurich. In her new role, she will also join the executive board of Credit Suisse, reporting to chief executive Thomas Gottstein.

Ms McDonagh, a London-born Oxford University graduate who is of Irish descent, was Bank of Ireland’s first woman chief executive when she was appointed in October 2017 to succeed Richie Boucher. She previously worked in a variety of senior roles for HSBC.


Her departure is widely understood to be linked to ongoing caps on pay and bonuses at Irish financial institutions.

As news of her impending departure was announced, chairman Patrick Kennedy described her as “an exceptional chief executive” who has driven “with ambition and commitment, a clear strategic focus on transformation, service improvement and business growth”.

Trading statement

Details of her new job emerged as Bank of Ireland said it had made a positive start to 2022, but was watching the impact of rising inflation on consumer sentiment.

In an interim management statement, the bank said net interest income was in line with expectations, as was business income in the first quarter of the year. Wealth and insurance income at the bank was up by about 10 per cent.

Net lending was €400 million in retail Ireland and corporate and markets in the first three months of the year.

That was offset by deleveraging in the UK market of €1.3 billion and the impact of foreign exchange and other factors to the tune of €200 million.

Bank of Ireland said it had a total of €75.2 billion in customer loan volumes at the end of March, down from €76.3 billion at the end of December 2021.

There was a significant increase in green lending in the quarter, with “green” loans accounting for 43 per cent of new mortgage lending during the quarter and 11 per cent of total business term new lending.

The group said its liquid assets of €49.8 billion and wholesale funding of €22.2 billion at end-March 2022 were largely unchanged since December 2021.

Customer deposits at the end of the quarter were €1.5 billion lower, dropping to €91.3 billion as a decline in retail UK deposits and corporate and markets deposits was partially offset by growth in Retail Ireland deposits.

The bank’s net credit impairment charge in the first quarter was in line with expectations, with non-performing exposures falling by €200 million since December 2021 to €4.1 billion.

Share buyback

Bank of Ireland’s €50 million share buyback programme that began earlier in April has seen the bank €17 million in shares as of April 26th.

The State currently holds a stake of less than 5 per cent in the bank, as the sell-down of the shareholding taken during the financial crash continued.

“The ongoing sell-down is supporting positive outcomes for Irish taxpayers, the economy and the group,” Ms McDonagh said.

“The group has made a positive start to 2022 with income, costs and capital all performing in line with expectations. We continue to deliver on our strategic and customer priorities,” Ms McDonagh said.

"Overall business momentum remains positive, but we are vigilant to the impact of higher inflation on customer sentiment arising from higher commodity prices and exacerbated by the unacceptable invasion of Ukraine. We have also taken a number of proactive steps to support the humanitarian response and stand ready to do more."

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist