Thursday 29 September 2016

The Punt: Martin not your average CEO

Published 11/04/2016 | 02:30

Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin
Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin

Chief executives can be an odd sort to say the least. Outside of Silicon Valley, most of them seem to have been born in a dark suit and tie. And many of them seem to think that dropping terms like “going forward” and “future visibility” is a sign of intelligence or something.

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Perhaps its for this reason that we find the likes of Michael O’Leary or Wetherspoon’s boss Tim Martin so interesting. And if you don’t know Mr Martin he seems to be a PR man’s nightmare.

In an interview with London’s ‘Evening Standard, he makes it clear that he isn’t the standard CEO. He seems to have a pretty low opinion of bankers for one thing. He recounts a banker pitching him the pub company Spirit for £2bn. Martin said he didn’t have the money, the banker responded that he had the debt lined up. Martin told him where to go.

On the need for corporate governance, he says: “I read the Governance Code cover to cover once,” he says. “It mentioned shareholders 63 times, staff three times and customers none. It’s written by people who work in the City and don’t understand business at all.”

Don’t sugar-coat it, Tim, tell us what you really think.

Martin has already brought his way of doing business to Dublin and is looking to expand, having bought a number of properties around the city. We may yet be calling him the Michael O’Leary of the pub business here.

The end for bearer bonds?

If you were a fan of kitsch 80s action movies there is a good chance you will be familiar with “bearer bonds”. For a while back then it seemed every master criminal wanted to be paid in them. The Punt long ago last track of how many ransoms were paid in bearer bonds rather than “unmarked dollar bills in low denominations”. Indeed when Hans Gruber and his gang in ‘Die Hard’ took over Nakatomi Plaza in the hope of stealing $640m worth of bearer bonds.

It’s easy to see why the security was so popular. As their name suggests, whoever “bears” the bond owns it. No ID necessary. Not surprisingly, Governments have tried hard to end their use and make them illegal. However, according to a piece in the ‘Financial Times’ they are still very much in use, albeit with a different name.

Essentially they have evolved to become “new global notes”. These have many, if not all, of the characteristics of a classic bearer bond.

Hollywood isn’t likely to start using them though. “New global notes” doesn’t exactly run off the tongue, does it?

Jet setters go for the long haul

What is the longest flight you’ve ever been on?

If you go to London a lot, you spend 50 minutes on the plane all the time. Go to New York and it’s about six or seven hours. Go further afield – say LA or towards Australia – your’re talking 11 hours.

Spending 11 hours on a plane is a long time by any stretch, but how about 18 hours or more?

For a good while the longest non-stop commercial flight was an all business class flight from Singapore to New York, before high oil prices put an end to it. Now though, after the oil crash, airlines are reviving ultra long haul travel.

Emirates has begun an epic Dubai to Auckland service. The 8,810-mile journey takes about 17 hours and 20 minutes.

Qantas runs a Dallas to Sydney flight which takes a “mere” 16 hours and 50 minutes.

Given the Middle East carriers’ growth in recent years, its not surprising that seven of the 10 longest flights involve a destination in that region.

The Punt, however, reckons these flights will have to be restricted to business class or higher if they are to be successful. After all, how anyone could handle 18 hours cramped into an economy seat is hard for us to believe. The Punt for one would take a layover just to stretch our legs.

Irish Independent

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