Business Irish

Saturday 23 September 2017

Ray Curran

Roisin Burke

The ex-Smurfit boss and Marketspreads chairman has had a lively time of it lately, but he's looking to a return to profit for that business and the float of a new one in the US.

A key figure for over 20 years with Michael Smurfit's packaging group, Mr Curran led its US business until 2002 when he stepped down -- with a $10m (€7.7m) payoff and retaining a $2.2m (€1.7m) annual consultancy fee.

After that, he became a shareholder and chairman of Merrion Capital and a director of the Quinn Group for a time.

When Merrion restructured in 2010, Curran took the view that there was no future in equity stockbroking in Dublin.

In 2010, along with half a dozen others, including his son Enrique, he left with some €10m, including Merrion's stake in Marketspreads. Mr Curran is the main shareholder in the spreadbetting business. After they bought Marketspreads, they discovered serious legacy issues, with profits grossly overstated. They flagged these issues with the Central Bank, which suspended Marketspreads' activities for several weeks earlier this year.

Company funds had to be replaced, to the tune of €4.5m, a sizeable portion of which came from Mr Curran. Now it's back in business with Enrique set to be the new CEO. Legal recourse is being looked at. Directors hope Marketspreads will return to the black this year.

Mr Curran is a significant investor in a US internet security company called Trustwave, which is to float on the Nasdaq shortly, with a share value of about $750m.

He made money from the recent sale of Cooley Distillery, where he was a backer.

Though based in Dublin, he has homes in Spain and Chicago and spends substantial time in the US.

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