The government has informed AIB, the country's largest bank, during informal contacts that it must conduct an exhaustive search at home and abroad for a new chief executive to succeed incumbent Eugene Sheehy. This search must be done before selecting any internal candidate.
The bank's only internal candidate is veteran banker Colm Doherty, head of AIB Capital Markets. It is understood several internal candidates stood aside allowing Doherty a free run for the position.
However the Sunday Tribune has been told by senior government sources that Doherty cannot be seen as the automatic choice for the post. "We have yet to throw support behind Doherty. They need to make sure there is absolutely no other attractive alternative in the wings,'' said a senior government source.
The government has a say in the appointment through two government-appointed directors. It also has a say via its share investment in the company which is held by the National Pension Reserve Fund.
The government is nervous about appointing an AIB insider to the post following the hostile reaction of the public and some investors to the appointment of Richie Boucher to Bank of Ireland.