Head of €4.4bn deals loan book leaves Bank of Ireland

Bank of Ireland’s head of its acquisitions finance team, David Walsh, has left to join one of the lender’s customers, London-based private equity firm Bridgepoint.

The State’s largest bank by assets has a €4.4 billion acquisition finance loan book, spanning junior and senior debt. The unit, which has offices in Dublin, the UK, and US, funds management buyouts, deals where publicly-quoted companies are taken private, and other leveraged transactions across a variety of industries, according to its website. It has been in existence for more than 20 years.

Bank of Ireland has provided finance to Bridgpoint for various deals in recent years. In 2015 alone, it helped fund the private equity firm’s purchase of a controlling stake in Jersey-based fund services company Estera, the acquisition of French medical technology company Balt and the €300 million takeover of French software solutions provider eFront.

Bridgepoint’s move to poach Mr Walsh comes as the company considers moving into the area of providing debt in addition to its current private equity business. Still, Bridgepoint has said that it has no formal plans yet to raise a private debt fund or hire other outside credit specialists.

A spokesman for Bank of Ireland said that an appointment process to find a replacement for Mr Walsh is “under way but it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment further”.

The bank’s acquisition finance currently sits in the group’s corporate and treasury division. The business “generates attractive margins and fee income”, according to Bank of Ireland’s annual report.

The report highlights that acquisition is one of five key areas in which the bank is focused on building sustainable profits and that it is part of its “selective international diversification” strategy.

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