Thursday 27 October 2016

The Punt: New manager at rising Mazars

Published 08/06/2016 | 02:30

Dermot O'Hara
Dermot O'Hara

Mazars is expanding its actuarial services and has appointed a new director.

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The accountancy giant has established a new actuarial division, with Dermot O'Hara as its head.

Prior to joining Mazars, O'Hara, inset, was chief actuary at FBD Insurance and has more than 20 years of experience in the insurance industry having held previous roles in Axa, Friends First and Aviva.

Mark Kennedy, Mazars managing partner, said the company had developed a strong presence in the insurance sector, with more demand for actuarial services.

"Building on the expertise of Mazars' European actuarial network, the establishment of an actuarial team based in Dublin is an important strategic move, which provides us with a platform to deliver additional services to our clients as we continue to grow our wider financial services offerings," he said.

"Our investment in actuarial services is a vote of confidence in the recovering Irish economy and a commitment by Mazars to growing our business here in Ireland."

Kennedy said the expectation is that Mazars will grow its actuarial business over the coming year and expand the team.

London's being blitzed by Berlin

Private equity is something of a dirty term in Ireland these days. The big names have made a killing in Ireland over the past few years and, for some reason, we don't seem to like the fact that people are making lots of money because we messed things up royally ourselves.

In any case, the "vultures", as they are sometimes called, gathered in London yesterday for a conference on the state of the European real estate market and where they see things go from here.

There was an air of optimism in the conference room at the Langham Hotel in the city centre as delegates discussed the state of the fundraising environment and where the opportunities are.

An impromptu poll showed attendees overwhelmingly favour investing in Berlin commercial real estate rather than London at present. Brexit, and the perceived bursting of the London property market, are having an effect.

The keynote interview was with Bill Tresham, the president of the gigantic Canadian investor Ivanhoe Cambridge. The straight-talking Mr Tresham told the conference he loved Italy but worried it was a "different proposition" for investors. He recounted travelling to Sicily only to discover that a connecting ferry was not running and he had to adapt his plans.

Ivanhoe hasn't invested in Ireland but that anecdote perhaps sums up why Ireland is still getting private equity investors despite the perceived bounty elsewhere.

Unlike Spain and Italy, Ireland is perceived as a place where US funds can do business in a straightforward manner and the goalposts don't move. That may work in the country's favour for a time to come.

Who's winning in store wars

Whatever about a recovery, Irish shoppers are still keen on bargains, with nearly three-quarters of households shopping at Lidl during the 12 weeks to May 22.

The latest figures from research group Kantar Worldpanel show that a record number of people shopped at the German discounter in the period, as continuing store openings expand its footprint, with market share of 11.3pc. But rival Aldi isn't far behind, with 11pc market share.

SuperValu retained its position as the nation's biggest grocery retailer, with a 22.7pc share of the market. Tesco is close behind, with 22.4pc.

Kantar Worldpanel director David Berry said Tesco has seen a growth in footfall, "suggesting its investment in keeping prices down may be starting to pay off".

Dunnes Stores continued to perform ahead of its bigger rivals, with sales growth of 8pc.

The chain remains the third-biggest grocery retailer here, with a 21.3pc share of the market.

Irish Independent

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