Sunday 26 March 2017

The Punt: TDs eye Aer Lingus moolah

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe

The clamour for over €320m in funds the Government says will be made available for transport infrastructure projects once it sells its Aer Lingus stake is already afoot.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said that if the Aer Lingus sale to IAG goes ahead, the money the Government receives for its 25.1pc holding will be earmarked for a 'Connectivity Fund'.

Westmeath-Longford Fine Gael TD James Bannon already has his spoke in, calling for some of the money to be diverted to upgrade regional airfields, including of course, one in his own constituency - Abbeyshrule.

He says that a 100-metre runway extension could allow Abbeyshrule to handle commercial aircraft and make it a gateway to the midlands.

It's an unbelievably preposterous proposition. The last thing that's needed is another tiny regional airfield trying to handle commercial flights in a country that already has too many regional airports.

It highlights the need to ensure the money generated from an Aer Lingus sale is used wisely and not frittered away.

Goodbody bags bragging rights

Dublin stockbroker Goodbody has been voted Ireland's leading stockbroker in the prestigious Extel Pan-European Survey, for the second year in a row.

Ballsbridge based Goodbody secured its top ranking after heading the lists in five of the eight catagories assessed, including equity trading and execution.

It's been a busy year for the firm, which is the only Irish finance house advising IAG on the landmark bid for Aer Lingus.

The re-opening of the IPO market is also driving activity, with Goodbody winning mandates from Applegreen and Cairn Homes for their planned flotations and from Permanent TSB, Aryzta/Origin and Glanbia for recent share placings.

Head of Capital Markets at Goodbody Stephen Donovan is clearly chuffed with the results.

"After a tremendous showing in 2014 we are delighted that major global investors continue to recognise the quality and service levels of the Goodbody team in Capital Markets.

His firm didn't get things all their own way, however. Rival Davy, meanwhile, was voted best for research in the same Extel Survey.

More than 18,000 professionals voted in the survey.

The awards were annouced at a posh lunch at the London Guildhall hosted by BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitless.

The French have a word for it

The problem with the French, George W Bush once mused aloud, "is that they have no word for entrepreneur."

Imagine the former US president's surprise when he learns that Syrian born French businessman Mohed Altrad has been recognised as this year's global EY Entreprenuer of the Year.

Born into a Bedouin tribe in Syria, Mr Altrad had to fight just to be allowed to go to school but arrived in France as a 17 year old scholarship student.

After earning a PhD in Computer Science he worked in the technology sector for 15 years, before stumbling across a nearly bankrupt scaffolding business while on holidays back in 1985.

After buying what would become the basis of the Altrad Group along with a partner, Mohed set about consolidating the sector across Europe.

Famously, in Ireland he even made an attempt to buy Siteserv during the Irish company's controversial sale in 2012, by buying a handful of shares in the PLC and sending an executive to Dublin to make a last minute pitch during the formal shareholders' vote on the disposal.

He missed out on Siteserv, but Altrad Group employs 7,000 people in 110 subsidiaries. The glitzy awards do in Monaco where the award was announced is a long way from the deserts of Syria.

It saw Mohed Altrad picked from 65 national Entrepreneur of the Year winners, including Mark Roden, founder of telecoms business Ding who flew the flag for Ireland.

Irish Independent

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