* Boucher took charge shortly after bank sought state
* Won key investment before bringing bank back to profit
* Bank says succession process now under way
(Adds detail, finance minister quotes)
By Padraic Halpin
DUBLIN, March 24 Bank of Ireland Chief
Executive Richie Boucher will retire before the end of the year
after almost a decade in charge of the lender he guided from the
brink of nationalisation to lead a revival across the sector.
Boucher, who joined Ireland's largest lender by assets in
2003, headed its corporate banking and retail divisions before
being appointed CEO in February 2009, shortly after the bank,
like all other Irish lenders, sought a state bailout.
The bank, 14 percent owned by the state, did not name a new
boss but said the succession process was under way.
Under the matter-of-fact, Zambian-born banker, the bank
became the only domestically owned lender to stay out of state
control when it attracted 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) of
private investment at the height of the euro zone debt crisis in
The bank returned to profitability three years later and
after handing the state a profit on its rescue funds, it
recently embarked on a four-year technology investment that
Boucher said he would leave to someone else.
"I will be 59 in August and I feel it best for the group
that someone else leads the next stage of development," Boucher
said in a statement, adding he would continue to lead the group
while facilitating the transition to his successor.
The bank has a former CEO of a major Irish stock market
company among its ranks, deputy chairman Patrick Kennedy, who
led bookmaker Paddy Power from 2006 to 2014.
Boucher, once described by an Irish lawmaker and current
government minister as having "a hide like a rhino", had an egg
flung at him in 2011 by an irate shareholder, one of many who
lost out when Irish bank shares collapsed.
He told a 2015 parliamentary inquiry that he had made
mistakes in the run-up to the crash but that in the
six-and-a-half years that followed had "put action behind
Boucher, who joined Greek lender Eurobank as a
non-executive director in January, said last month that Bank of
Ireland expected to pay its first dividend in a decade next year
after Brexit forced it to delay plans by 12 months.
"Mr Boucher assumed his role as Chief Executive Officer at a
time of severe stress for the Bank of Ireland Group and indeed
for the Irish banking sector in general," Irish Finance Minister
Michael Noonan said in a statement.
"Under his stewardship, Bank of Ireland navigated its way
successfully through these difficult times. I wish to thank him
for his commitment, professionalism and drive."
($1 = 0.9259 euros)
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Mark Potter/Keith