KBC’s shock exit strategy was months in the making

It was not just the unfortunate staff who were caught by surprise last Friday by news of a BOI takeover. The plan was a secret to all but a select few at the two banks

KBC Bank Ireland looks set to leave the Irish market after announcing talks with Bank of Ireland. Picture: PA

Last Friday morning, KBC Bank Ireland’s 1,300-strong Irish workforce woke to the news of a proposed takeover of their employer’s business by Bank of Ireland as details of a joint statement issued at 7am were read out over the national airwaves.

As part of a carefully choreographed series of statements, an email from Peter Roebben, the chief executive of the bank’s Irish operations, landed in staff inboxes exactly five minutes later confirming that the bank ...