Wednesday 7 December 2016

The Punt: Bill Gates in the manure

Published 19/06/2015 | 02:30

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates

A trust affiliated with billionaire Bill Gates will pay a $30,000 fine over horse manure in a court settlement expected to be approved by a special magistrate in the wealthy south Florida village of Wellington.

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But the Microsoft co-founder, ranked as the world's richest person by many, will receive the village's standard 80pc discount on the fine, which at one point reached $147,000, said code compliance manager Steven Koch.

Gates bought a $9m estate in Florida in 2013 in the name of Mallet Hill Trust in the equestrian community, which is also home to the International Polo Club.

The software billionaire's property was criticised by the authorities in January 2014 for placing an old manure bin too close to a canal, and for building a second bin without a permit to replace the old one, the official said.

With as many as 12,000 horses in residence community-wide during the winter season, and 100,000 tons of manure produced a year, the community takes proper disposal seriously to protect the nearby Everglades National Park and other waterways.

Computer says Yes, or No

Anyone for a discussion on how to structure financing for a leveraged property deal? Thought not.

But for property and finance big wigs in London yesterday, it was the one of the main topics of conversation.

The Irish market is now a long way from the days when a guy with a likely site rang around the stockbrokers to round up a bunch of wealthy Paddies to back a deal.

These days the buyers are global private equity and investment fund principals, many of whom were at the five-star Marriot Hotel Grosvenor Square in London yesterday to talk about the Irish landscape. At one discussion the moderator joked that the four men sitting around him ran funds worth between £150bn and £200bn, depending on the time of day.

The joke had a strong element of truth to it.

When people at home talk about "vulture funds", they mean these guys.

Well dressed, well mannered, but completely focused on "the deal".

But these guys don't trade on their instincts. They dive into their models and if the numbers say "buy", they buy.

If things don't add up per the plan, they stay well away.

It's a bloodless way to cut deals, but maybe a bit less messy too.

Gary McGann makes a packet

Just weeks after announcing his retirement as chief executive of paper giant Smurfit Kappa, Gary McGann has cashed in on the company's shares for a windfall of nearly €1.7m.

A stock market listing published earlier this week shows that McGann, below, sold off 65,000 of his shares at €25.85 a pop to pocket €1.68m.

Following the sale McGann has about 427,000 shares left, which would be worth more than €11m if sold for the same price as the previous shares.

According to a recent survey by the 'Sunday Independent', McGann was the best paid chief executive among the Irish Stock Exchange's top 20 companies last year.

McGann was paid €7.2m last year including more than €3m in share awards.

McGann announced at the start of May that he is to step down as CEO in August although he has agreed to remain on the packaging giant's board as a non-executive director.

Irish Independent

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