Sunday 22 October 2017

The Punt - Communication post at NAMA

Chief executive officer of the Bank of Ireland, Richie Boucher
Chief executive officer of the Bank of Ireland, Richie Boucher

NAMA has advertised for a communi-cations manager. With all this talk of the agency being potentially wound up early, The Punt scoured the advertisement – posted on the NTMA website – for clues on the latest thinking about closure dates. In our own fevered mind, advertising a six-month contract, for example, might be seized upon as evidence that the end was nigh for the giant asset manager.

The contract advertised actually runs for nine months, but not because Brendan McDonagh is preparing to close shop. It is a maternity cover gig. So much for that.

So what does a communications manager do at the, ahem, somewhat incommunicative agency?

Well, based on the ad, the work is driven largely by the extensive reporting the agency is obliged to do through Parliamentary Questions, annual and quarterly reports and investor presentations.

Anyone thinking about lobbing in a CV should bear in mind that the workload is likely to increase fairly dramatically as the agency becomes subject to the full raft of Freedom of Information legislation. With that in mind, successful candidates should make sure there's a ready supply of black "redacting markers" available as part of the package.

The deadline for the post is May 13, unlucky for some, though hopefully not all applicants.

Milking the dairy industry

The Punt wonders how Richie Boucher went down with farmers at a conference in Cork last week. The Bank of Ireland boss addressed more than 600 of them at the agri-business event, which was held, appropriately enough, at Corrin Mart near Fermoy.

Everyone from the Government to banks is making a big deal about investing in agriculture. It's perceived as somewhat untainted from the economic mess and as a bright light for developing exports. At BoI's recent AGM, Zambia-born Mr Boucher also said that targeting lending to the sector is at the top of the bank's agenda, especially with the milk quota system due to expire next year.

Also speaking at the event was BoI's head of agriculture, Sean Farrell. He told farmers that the removal of quotas provides a big opportunity. Irish dairies produced 5.4 billion litres of milk in the 12 months to the end of March, compared to the 13.7 billion litres that was produced in the UK.

Per capita, Ireland's milk production eclipses that of the UK. Under Ireland's 'Food Harvest' plan, the aim is to boost milk production here 50pc by 2020. It will be interesting to see how heavily Bank of Ireland lends to the dairy sector as it sets out to achieve that.

Our EU man in Washington

BEEF farmers and pharmaceutical makers, take note. A new EU envoy has been appointed to the US – a person that may determine the fortunes of these industries on both sides of the Atlantic for decades to come – and he's Irish. The man in question is David O'Sullivan, who takes over from Portugal's Joao Vale de Almedia.

The reason why farmers and drug companies should be paying attention to Mr O'Sullivan's appointment is because he's about to become an integral cog in the intense negotiations taking place between the two economic giants, in an effort to form a trade alliance. The world's biggest trade alliance, one which could abolish trade barriers like separate drug approval processes with wildly different criteria, or bans on imports of beef that have been fed certain growth hormones. This trade pact has huge ramifications for a whole host of industries too, and presents the US and EU with a rare weapon in the face of rapidly growing low-cost competition from the East.

Mr O'Sullivan has an impressive CV: he's worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs, European Commission and the European External Action Service.

Irish Independent

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