It has been announced today that NAMA non-executive director Peter Stewart (pictured here) has resigned from the agency. In a brief statement issued by NAMA today, the NAMA chairman Frank Daly expresses his gratitude to Peter for his service to the board during an “exceptionally busy and challenging period”
There is a longer statement issued on Peter’s behalf by MKC Communications in Dublin which confirms that “financial consultant” Peter has resigned and notified Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan of his decision. The statement goes on to say “this is an appropriate juncture for my [Peter’s] decision, particularly with the completion of the review of the structures of NAMA by the former chief executive of HSBC, Michael Geoghegan. His review should result in significant changes to the structures of the agency”
The statement says that Peter was “instrumental in the establishment of the agency review” and goes on to quote Peter saying “I believe the Geoghegan review should be a watershed in the life of NAMA, and I hope that its recommendations will be fully implemented”
There is no word on Peter’s specific intentions other than he “now intends to devote more time to his other interests”. There is no word from NAMA on a replacement appointment. Make of that what you will.
Peter was a key bridge between NAMA and its Northern Irish constituency. NAMA’s role in Northern Ireland is particularly sensitive as the agency controls €4bn of loans (at face value) associated with the North. The agency has gone to great lengths to explain its mission in Northern Irelandand to reassure politicians and the business community that NAMA will neither hoard property nor conduct fire sales. Northern Irish loans account for 5% of NAMA’s portfolio, yet NAMA has set up a Northern Ireland committee to dedicate itself to Northern Irish issues. In August, 2011 the Northern Irish finance minister Sammy Wilson called for a “full representative” on the NAMA board, and for NAMA to get a move-on with dealing with developer business plans. Plainly Peter’s departure and ensuring a smooth transition in the conduct of the Northern Irish committee will be a delicate matter for NAMA.
But, putting Northern Ireland to one side, what are the “significant changes” which the Geoghegan review recommended and why might they mark a “watershed” in NAMA’s life? Remember that Michael Geoghegan (profile and picture here) is the former HSBC banker that Minister Noonan engaged two weeks ago to conduct a 10-day review of NAMA, and that review was apparently discussed with Minister Noonan last Friday 7th October, 2011. We’re unlikely to get a copy of the review, but will Minister Noonan announce the recommendations?