The Business On... David Hodgkinson, Chairman, Allied Irish Banks

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The Independent Online

Is this the man to save the Titanic of Irish Banking?

Erm, which one did you mean? David Hodgkinson has been appointed as interim executive chairman of Allied Irish Banks, which is about to become majority-owned by the Irish state. In fact, all three of the big Irish banks would have sunk without government help, and while AIB is still not in the best of health, compared with Anglo Irish Bank (there's no connection) it looks almost solid.

Good man then?

Well, he had a pretty good career at HSBC, which he joined back in 1969. He toured its far-flung territories in progressively more senior roles, culminating in his appointment as chief operating officer of HSBC group. He retired from the company in 2008 after 39 years. HSBC is not known for hiring mugs, but he'll need all his skills to put this particular ship on an even keel.

There's been a bit of a fuss though?

Funny you should say that, but yes. Mr Hodgkinson has ruffled a few feathers across the Irish Sea, gaining the (presumably) unwanted title of "controversial banker". The Irish media has noticed that he managed to upset our former prime minister Gordon Brown in the year he retired when he warned that Bank of England rate cuts wouldn't necessarily be passed on to mortgage holders.

Oh dear.

Perhaps Irish finance minster Brian Lenihan is of the view that a bit of plain speaking wouldn't do too much harm at AIB. He might be right. Mr Hodgkinson wasn't afraid of shaking things up in the Middle East when he was made head of the Saudi British Bank (part owned by HSBC).

That'll come in handy then.

Absolutely, although we'd be interested in hearing his views on property these days. In an interview with a business publication in the Middle East he said he was particularly impressed by what was happening in places like Dubai and Qatar, when they started to invest in tourism and, erm, property. The latter doesn't look quite as clever as it did. Rather like in Ireland, really.