Thursday 23 October 2014

The Punt: Diageo 'friends' Facebook with appointment

Published 31/07/2014 | 02:30

Nicola Mendelsohn
Karen O'Leary
Christoph Mueller

Is Guinness going viral? Drinks giant Diageo has named Facebook's Nicola Mendelsohn, as a non-executive director, taking up the post on September 1.

She will remain as vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Facebook, where she is the technology giant's most senior executive outside the US.

At Facebook, the UK based mother-of-four is responsible for operations across EMEA - including some of the same emerging markets seen by Diageo and the other big drinks companies as drivers of future growth.

As a non executive at Diageo she will join the audit, nomination and remuneration committees.

But the big thing Ms Mendelsohn will bring to the board is her insight into the latest in digital marketing including, of course, targeted advertising through Facebook itself.

Ironically, her appointment to the Facebook job just last year following a career in advertising was seen as part of a drive by the Menlo Park-based tech firm to better connect to the marketing world.

From some of Europe's oldest drink brands to California wonderkids, it seems Ms Mendelsohn has something for everyone.

Merger may weaken competition for consumers

Is merging the National Consumer Agency (NCA) with the Competition Authority going to work?

Karen O'Leary, pictured right, of the National Consumer Agency is finally getting the body to work, but the merger could dilute its effectiveness.

New figures out from the NCA show it is making real strides. It took 115,000 enforcement actions last year, had 56,000 contacts from consumers and 1.5 million visits to its website.

And, for the first time, the NCA named the companies that produce the most consumer inquiries. Vodafone, Bank of Ireland and Three topped the list.

Not all of the contacts were complaints, but large numbers were the result of consumers being disgruntled.

Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Minster Richard Bruton has pushed ahead with a merger of the NCA with the Competition Authority to create what he claims will be a more powerful consumer watchdog.

Yes, we have too many quangos. But the Competition Authority, chaired by Isolde Goggin, has not been to the fore much recently, a time of bank closures and mergers, and banking duopoly now in place.

Much of the loss of competition in banking was unavoidable, but a more voluble Competition Authority is surely needed. The Punt remains to be convinced about merging the two bodies.

Mueller wants another CEO role here

Aer Lingus boss Christoph Mueller, right, will no doubt be hoping that he leaves the airline on a high when he heads for the departure lounge next May.

As the airline released results yesterday, Mr Mueller confirmed that he wants to stay in Ireland rather than heading home straight away to his native Germany. He's the chairman of An Post and also on the board of Tourism Ireland.

"I would like to stay in Ireland and particularly my mandates in An Post and Tourism Ireland are very interesting tasks and I'm looking forward to continuing that for the years to come," he told The Punt. "I'm currently focusing entirely on what is at hand here. It keeps me busy and is a lot of fun, I have to admit."

He said he's not currently evaluating other CEO roles.

There's been speculation that outgoing Ryanair finance boss Howard Millar could be a natural fit to replace departing Paddy Power chief executive Patrick Kennedy. So where would that leave Mr Mueller, The Punt wonders.

Interestingly, Smurfit Kappa chief executive Gary McGann (a former Aer Lingus boss himself), turns 65 next year. Could the hot seat become vacant?

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