The freshly departed chief executive was only appointed to the position at the Rabobank subsidiary last January, and just a few months later has jumped ship to join Garrett Kelleher’s Shelbourne Development, the company that has already started construction on what will be the world’s tallest residential apartment block, the Chicago Spire.
Murphy has worked with the Dutch institution Rabobank for 13 years, having been managing director of its Irish arm prior to heading up its Asian operations, which are based in
He replaced Adrian Hegarty, the then interim ACC chief executive, who had taken up the reins after Colm Darling resigned from his post last December.
Coincidently, Darling left soon after ACC had been severely criticised for a controversial scheme where ACC loaned a total of €500m to thousands of customers to buy geared tracker bonds. Investment in the Solid World 5 geared bond carried high interest rates, and initially it performed very badly, leaving many investors wondering why they hadn’t just stuffed the money in a deposit account. ACC didn’t even actually buy shares in the bond on behalf of investors; it bought derivatives that mirrored it.
Since then, however, the bond has performed well, up 41.48% since its launch by last Monday.
Still, some Rabobank insiders have expressed surprise that Murphy has decided to so radically cut short his tenure at ACC, especially since the job of firmly positioning ACC’s refocused strategy within the Rabobank sphere appears to be as yet incomplete.
That’s led to questions over just how well ACC is holding up in a tough Irish banking market.
And despite the headline figures, maybe all’s not well.
In May, ACC reported pre-tax profits for 2006 of €67.3m, on total operating income of €152.8m. Costs, including a number of “one-off” expenses, said the bank, had climbed by 5% during the fiscal year, bringing the cost-income ratio to 62.7%.
In 2005 ACC recorded a pre-tax profit of €32.5m, down 53% on 2004’s figure. But while that was significantly improved during 2006, operating profit actually fell last year compared to 2005, when it was €166.6m.
And there’s a but. A big one.
ACC’s cost-income ratio for 2006 is a significant deterioration on 2005, when the figure was a much better, if still unattractive, 54.6%. That means the company was being run even less efficiently last year compared to 2005 - all prior to Murphy coming home.
Want to know just how bad that cost-income ratio is? Take a look at Anglo Irish Bank, which ACC is attempting to at least partly emulate with a shift towards concentrating on small and medium-sized business customers. Anglo may be a far bigger operation, but shouldn’t it be easier to maintain a tighter cost-income ratio in a smaller operation?
At the end of May 2007, Anglo’s cost-income ratio was a ravishingly low-cut 25%.
As further comparison, ICC Bank, which was also once a State-owned institution just like ACC, had a cost-income ratio of just 35.8% before it was sold to Bank of Scotland in 2001, and it was trending down.
In that light, ACC’s current cost-income ratio appears a truly dismal testimonial to five years of private ownership.
Perhaps Murphy saw a big mountain to climb, or maybe he just wanted to move to fresh pastures.
And no more different could those pastures be than a Chicago building site.
As ‘President, International’ of Shelbourne Development, Murphy will oversee the massive $2.4bn Spire project being backed by Anglo Irish Bank and expected to be complete by 2010. He’ll also have responsibility for other
The 2,000 feet-tall (610 metres) Spire will be almost twice as high as the former World Trade Center towers in New York, while it will also dwarf Chicago’s John Hancock skyscraper, which stands at 1,127 feet (344 metres), or 1,500 feet, if its giant antennae are accounted for.
Garrett Kelleher has overcome much scepticism about his project during the past year or so, most notably from the Chicago Tribune. With ground work having already begun, he has at least answered those critics who wondered whether the scheme would ever proceed. Now all he has to do is find buyers for the swanky apartments – all 1,200 of them.
A graduate of