Business Irish

Sunday 22 October 2017

Paddy Power's Patrick Kennedy tapped over NTMA role

Ireland poised to return to bond markets in 2014

Bold Thinker: Paddy Power boss Patrick Kennedy
Bold Thinker: Paddy Power boss Patrick Kennedy
Nick Webb

Nick Webb

Patrick Kennedy, the maverick chief executive of Paddy Power Bookmaker, was unsuccesfully tapped up as a possible chairman of the NTMA, which is charged with managing Ireland's return to the bond markets.

However former Aer Lingus boss Willie Walsh, now chief executive of IAG, was appointed as chairman of the NTMA advisory committee by Finance Minister Michael Noonan last month. He is to become chairman of the NTMA board of directors once legislation is passed.

The move to recruit Mr Kennedy was surprisingly innovative and the Paddy Power boss is seen as a bold thinker and strategist. However, it is understood that there was some resistance in the corridors of power over Mr Kennedy's involvement with the gambling industry.

Mr Kennedy, a former McKinsey whizz, has transformed Paddy Power since taking over in 2006. The bookmaker's share prices have risen almost ten-fold and the company has been transformed from a gambling shop operator into probably Ireland's largest indigenous technology company.

As well as its betting and its phone shop businesses, Paddy Power has developed the technology that makes the betting industry run. Mr Kennedy is also a board member of Bank of Ireland and served as a director of Elan, which was recently taken over by Perrigo in a €6.3bn deal.

Mr Kennedy, a multiple winner of the Sunday Independent Chief Executive of the Year and Young Executive of the Year, is believed to have been approached several times about the NTMA role.

Exploratory talks about the role are said to have taken place in recent weeks. However, these were not successful and Mr Noonan and his mandarins plumped for British Airways chief Mr Walsh.

The NTMA board is made up of Dept of Finance Secretary General John Moran; CEO of Bermuda-based Bank of NT Butterfield & Son Brendan McDonagh; Finnish civil servant Tytti Noras; and ex-EMP Global managing partner Donald Roth.

Mr Noonan has tasked Mr Walsh with a number of strategic objectives during his term as chairman of the board.

These include the "investment strategy for the Irish Strategic Investment Fund; the provision of advisory services in relation to Commercial Semi-States through NewERA; the provision of treasury and debt management for the State; the activities of the National Development Finance Agency; and the operation of the State Claims Agency".

The role of the NTMA is of pivotal importance over coming months as Ireland exits the bailout with a precautionary line of credit.

Although the NTMA has built up major cash reserves to fund the deficit in 2014, it will be under pressure to sell the sustainability of Ireland's recovery to investors in coming months.

It is expected that the NTMA will return to the bond markets in early 2014, in what will be a keenly watched debt issuance – the first since Ireland left the bailout.

Sunday Independent

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