Business Irish

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Donnery for the ECB - can we take that to the bank?

Central Bank Deputy Governor Sharon Donnery has been linked with a top job at the ECB. Photo: David Conachy
Central Bank Deputy Governor Sharon Donnery has been linked with a top job at the ECB. Photo: David Conachy
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

Unrepentant feminist that I am, I dream of a day when a woman leads a benevolent dictatorship in Ireland, wielding absolute political power over the State but for the benefit of the population as a whole.

You know it makes sense, guys.

Until such times, we have to get on with the all-important work of addressing Ireland's institutional gender imbalance by seeing more women elevated into positions of power and influence, especially in the still male-dominated world of banking and finance. Alas, my dreams of the Central Bank appointing its first female Governor appear to have been cruelly dashed, if soundings from Frankfurt are anything to go by.

I'm talking, of course, about Deputy Governor (Central Banking) Sharon Donnery, who had widely been tipped to become the first woman to place a firm hand on the proverbial monetary tiller.

It's never too soon to speculate about succession, but it seems that Frankfurt already has its eyes on Donnery, who chairs the budget committee of the European Central Bank as well as the ECB's all important high-level group on non-performing loans (NPLs).

Donnery has also garnered international attention following her recent address at a forum on central bankers and inclusive growth at the IMF/World Bank's spring meeting in Washington DC.

I hear that Donnery's next move could be to a place where women are as rare as hen's teeth - the executive board of the ECB - which would be a remarkable achievement for women, and not just the Irish variety.

Another woman who had been tipped for the role of first female governor was Fiona Muldoon, whom Donnery succeeded as director of credit institutions in March 2014, following Muldoon's departure.

But would Muldoon, who earned €898,000 last year as chief executive of FBD Insurance, be tempted back into the world of public service? Would any man or woman for that matter?

Sooner, rather than later, we'll get a female Central Bank Governor. A seat on the ECB's executive board, ladies, ain't such a bad achievement in the meantime.

Ex-NTR investee Green Plains beefs up share price

Interesting moves afoot in the States, where beef and grain giant Cargill has decided to sell off its remaining feed lots (basically massive facilities where lots of cattle are farmed). The move will see it cease rearing cattle for the butchers.

But more interesting from an Irish perspective is the buyer, Green Plains, a bioethanol producer in which NTR once held a stake in excess of 40pc.

The Irish company began selling off that stake some years back and judging by the Altas Investments website (Altas being the company into which NTR hived off its assets outside European wind in 2015) it no longer has any holding in the company at all.

Green Plains has been on a massive expansion drive and announced plans to enter the food industry last year. With the shares are up more than 50pc in the last year, one wonders if the NTR make the right call in selling off its stock.

Festival director excels at her role as a 'manel-beater'

As a long suffering 'token chick' on TV, radio and conference panels, I have huge sympathy towards producers trying to avoid the scourge of "manels" - all-male panels.

Conference organisers and broadcasters are now routinely (and rightly) named and shamed under the "manel alert" banner on social media.

Some, such as US President Donald Trump, with his all-male 'doughnut circle' surrounding him every time he signs an executive order, are immune to shame when it comes to representing the views of the fairer sex.

So, hat tip (or is it a stiletto kick?) to Sian Smyth, festival director of the Dalkey Book Festival, which kicks off next month. Not only has Smyth sold out the Bord Gais Energy Theatre for an evening with former US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, she has also secured 50 female contributors to speak alongside 58 men at the festival.

Just shows what you can achieve if you put your mind to it.

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