Friday 28 October 2016

The Punt: Irish Rail tracks claims

The Punt

Published 02/05/2016 | 02:30

Iarnrod Eireann Chief Executive David Franks
Iarnrod Eireann Chief Executive David Franks

As pay talks heat up in sectors from retail to transport, it will be interesting to see how things pan out at Irish Rail.

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The semi-state company is facing a wage claim of up to 25pc from unions.

They have already threatened that a ballot for possible strike action.

It will be a busy time so for senior managers, and the board. Irish Rail's chief executive is David Franks, and its chairman is Phil Gaffney, who also happens to be a non-executive director at London's Crossrail board.

Mr Franks hails from Salisbury in Wiltshire, and started his career at British Rail.

Meanwhile, there are seven board members at Irish Rail. Two of those are based in the UK. Mal McGreevy, a former Translink executive, is based in Co Down, and Carolyn Griffiths lives in West Sussex. Tracey McGee, a solicitor who has worked in Ireland for years and was a former ministerial assistant to Alan Kelly, happens to be a UK native but lives in Tipperary.

DAA looks for hole in one

Fore! The DAA has put out to tender a contract to operate a golf centre just down the road from the main entrance to Dublin Airport.

Currently called the Fingal Golf Centre, the premises features a 32-bay driving range as well as an area for practising the short game. The centre had been the focus of a legal tussle last year, when the DAA sought to evict the company that was using the 32-acre site, which is owned by the airport operator.

The golf centre had been established in 1995 by the late Ray Barry, whose son headed the business after his death.

But the case never went to court, and the two sides reached a settlement to both parties' satisfaction.

The DAA has now put the golf centre operation out to tender, with a nine-year lease on offer. It is understood that some capex will be required to lift the centre's game.

The site forms part of the huge land bank that has been amassed by the DAA around Dublin Airport over more than 40 years as it set its sights early on the long-term possibility of a second main runway requirement. Construction of that new runway will begin in earnest next year as passenger numbers at Dublin soar.

The tender documents for the driving range suggest that apart from the driving range itself, prospective bidders can consider what type of retail and cafe offering they'll provide, and if they will have a pro golfer available.

All smiles at Steripack

US firm Bemis recently announced that it had agreed to buy the medical business of Offaly-based Steripack in a deal reckoned to be worth €70m.

It's a nice payday for Garry Moore, Steripack's founder and CEO, who owns just over half the group. The unit being sold manufactures specialised packaging for the healthcare and pharma sectors and has factories in Ireland, the US, Poland and Malaysia.

Steripack, which was founded in 1994, will hang on to its contract manufacturing unit, which includes a business just across the way from its factory in Clara, Co Offaly.

Steripack was an early investor in Clara-based toothpaste maker Europharma Concepts, acquiring an initial 12pc stake for €1.4m.

Europharma was established by Declan Lenahan, and counts a number of well-known retailers among its customers. Lenahan had pumped €400,000 of his own cash into Europharma to get it off the ground.

But the toothpaste business struggled, and a capital restructuring in 2015 resulted in Steripack taking 99pc ownership of the business. Accounts for Europharma show that it made a €180,000 loss in 2014, compared to a €545,000 loss in 2013.

Irish Independent

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