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Robert Mulhall has spent more than 25 years with AIB since first joining the bank in 1995. Photograph: Alan Betson
AIB’s managing director of its UK unit, Robert Mulhall, is planning to leave the group within the coming months, after overseeing a major restructuring of the division.
Mr Mulhall (47) has spent more than 25 years with the group since first joining the bank in 1995, broken by a two-year gap between 2013 and 2015, when he worked with consulting group Accenture in the United States.
The executive took over the helm of the bank’s UK division almost two years ago and oversaw a review of its operations in light of Brexit. This resulted in the group’s exit from the SME lending market in Britain and the closure of eight of its remaining 15 retail branches in Northern Ireland last year.
The bank is cutting 300 jobs as a result of an agreement in November to sell its £600 million (€719 million) small-business loan book to London-based challenger lender Allica Bank, reducing the UK workforce to about 600.
AIB’s exit from the labour-intensive SME segment of the British market will save it an estimated €35 million in the coming years.
Mr Mulhall’s decision to leave AIB during the first half of this year was communicated internally late last year.
Sources familiar with his thinking said that he would have had to commit to another two or three years to see the UK division through its next phase, as it targets growth in corporate lending in niche areas such as renewable energy, manufacturing and warehousing in Great Britain.
AIB UK’s loan book amounts to about £7 billion (€8.4 billion), following the SME portfolio sale, the equivalent of about 14 per cent of the wider group’s loan book.
It is expected that he will move into the banking technology space after leaving AIB.
Mr Mulhall headed up AIB’s Irish retail and commercial banking business between 2015 and early 2020 and was among senior figures at the group to throw their hats into the ring as it searched for a new chief executive in late 2018, in the wake of Bernard Byrne’s decision to quit. Colin Hunt, another internal candidate, was ultimately selected.
“On behalf of everyone at AIB, I sincerely thank Robert for his significant contribution to the group during his first period with the bank from 1995 to 2013, and in particular over his six years of service since returning in 2015,” said Mr Hunt in a statement in response to questions from The Irish Times.
“He has shown enormous commitment, passion and leadership – always putting the customer at the centre of his decision-making.”
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