Saturday 20 October 2018

Ergo

Shawn Matthews is leaving Cantor Fitzgerald. Photo: Jonathan Fickies/Bloomberg
Shawn Matthews is leaving Cantor Fitzgerald. Photo: Jonathan Fickies/Bloomberg
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

What now for Cantor as US boss quits for hedge fund?

Cantor Fitzgerald's Shawn Matthews, head of the firm's broker-dealer unit, gained quite a high profile in Ireland in 2012 when Cantor bought out Dolmen for a reported €11m.

Matthews, who chairs the Irish business, had big plans for Dolmen as Ireland stood on the edge of economic recovery.

"We are looking to be the number one fixed-income dealer in Ireland in a relatively short period of time," he said at the time. "We are still aggressively looking to expand. I can see us adding at least 200 people over the next year."

Matthews also saw Cantor playing a key role in Irish housing crisis through repackaging mortgages into securities to get them off troubled lenders' books. "We are looking to go in there to solve part of that issue," he said. "I think the solution will come through securitisations of real-estate loans."

However, last week Cantor announced Matthews was leaving to start a hedge fund.

Since 2012, Cantor has faced some challenges in Ireland. In 2017, it made a profit after a loss the previous year. Ronan Reid - who co-founded Dolmen and now heads Cantor here - warned of Ireland's tough regulatory environment, stating "the underlying costs of doing business in Ireland remain a pressure point". Brokers around town have had lots to chat about lately, with talk of buyouts and mergers gaining momentum. Matthews' exit has thrown a new question into the mix - what will his departure mean for its long talked-about takeover of Merrion Capital?

Giant US law firm sets its sights on Dublin's shores

K&L Gates, the mammoth US law firm famous for its tech offering, is maintaining a discreet silence over plans to open a new office in Dublin. The firm - which has a significant presence in London - is scouting in Dublin for some fresh local talent, m'learned friends tell me. Could K&L (which declined to comment on its Celtic foray) also set its sights on Ireland's lucrative tech scene? The firm boasts it is "raising the bar regarding information technology within the legal industry", moving fast so that clients can leverage their technological investments.

Ireland has punched above its weight in attracting leading tech multinationals, many of which have selected Dublin as their European HQ. But some are also fretting over the conveyor belt of fraught legal cases that have started in the Irish High Court and have led to the striking down of key privacy agreements between the EU and the US. No wonder the big guns have us in their sights.

RTE Guide strikes balance with readers in revamp

The RTE Guide has recently hit the shelves with a new look for spring, featuring presenter Pamela Flood on the cover. In a note to advertisers Catherine Lee, managing editor of the Guide said: "We've given the magazine a  makeover with a new colour palette and design layout, while retaining all the things our readers love. The feedback so far has been hugely positive."

The Guide may not be the must-have mag for TV viewers it was even a decade ago when sales were over 100,000. But it has remained a profitable business for the broadcaster in difficult financial times. It still sells over 45,000 copies, has revenues of €4.5m or so and a margin of 10pc. The Christmas Guide, meanwhile, sells over 300,000 copies. While the latest revamp will no doubt target younger readers, I believe one of the biggest-selling editions in recent years was one in which Marty Whelan revealed details of his hair transplant. Perhaps Guide won't be in any rush to chase the twentysomething readership just yet.

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