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Airline exec Walsh named to Ireland's debt agency

Willie Walsh, CEO of the International Airlines Group
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Willie Walsh, CEO of the International Airlines Group

Ireland appointed former British Airways boss Willie Walsh to its government debt agency Monday as the nation returns to financial markets following an 85 billion euro ($116 billion) bailout.

Walsh, now CEO of British Airways' parent, International Airlines Group (IAG), will become chairman of the board of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) when a law approving the board's creation is passed early next year.

The board will be charged with setting targets for debt management and NTMA's investment strategy. John Corrigan will remain the agency's CEO.

(Read more: Ireland risks long-term pain for short-term gain)

Ireland has cash on hand so will not issue any more bonds this year. But it will need to demonstrate that it can fund itself regularly on international markets after it becomes the first euro zone state to exit a bailout in December.

IAG, which also owns Iberia, said the appointment would not affect Walsh's role at the airline operator.

"Willie Walsh is an ideal candidate for the role ... given his position as a global business leader, his extensive experience of corporate change, and his equity and financial market experience," Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in a statement.

(Read more: Ireland's latest austerity cut: Its government)

Walsh, born in Dublin in 1961 and an MBA graduate of Trinity College in Dublin, was a pilot for Aer Lingus and eventually become CEO of the Irish carrier. He moved to British Airways as CEO and was appointed chief of IAG when it formed in 2011.

Noonan is meeting with International Monetary Fund officials this week as Ireland considers leaving its bailout without a financing backstop from its international lenders.

That would block it from accessing the European Central Bank's as-yet-unused program of government bond purchases, but it would also reduce the conditions and close monitoring by European officials—bolstering Dublin's claim to have restored economic sovereignty lost by the previous government in 2010.

(Read more: Ireland and Portugal budget for life after bailout)

"The game plan is pretty well laid out; there is no bond supply until year-end and they are prefunded for next year," said David Schnautz, rate strategist at Commerzbank in New York. "The decision on the credit line is on the government side, and the debt agency has only a consulting role."

—By Reuters

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