Saturday 17 March 2018

Have a look at who has been naughty or nice

IT’S back for another year! The survey that Irish chief executives and bosses fear the most. The annual Sunday Independent analysts’ poll reveals which chief executives are doing the business — and which ones are misfiring. More than 30 top Irish and international analysts covering the key Irish listed companies have delivered their verdict on some of the best-known and highest-paid names in Irish business. It’s slaps on the back for some and time for good excuses from others. Some of the highest profile executives are going to get quite a surprise in their pre-Christmas stocking. Nick Webb and Roisin Burke reveal all


AND we thought betting was supposed to be bad for you. Paddy Power lands the title of the best Irish company as voted for by key Irish and international analysts at major stockbroking firms in Ireland

and the UK. Zzzzz. We may have to ban the bookie next year. Stan McCarthy’s Kerry Group was a clear second, with Michael O’Leary’s Ryanair in third. Tommy Breen’s DCC also did well. Last year’s winner Paddy Power

WORST DEAL: Cashcall at the Bank of Ireland

THERE were some right old stinkers out there — but Bank of Ireland’s cashcall last June, when it raised €1.7bn from shareholders in a rights issue, was a clear winner, head and shoulders ahead of the rest. Shares were trading at €1.45 before the three-for-two rights issue. Now the venerable old Bank of Ireland needs another €2.2bn to meet new capital requirements. Last week the bank — which can trace its roots back to 1783 — saw its share price sink below 40¢. A spectacular destruction of shareholder value. The bailout of Anglo, AIB’s failure to do a rights issue and the IMF deal were all pinpointed by analysts as other dreadful deals undertaken last year, but the combined vote for all these was just a fraction of the Bank of Ireland’s poll.

Last year’s winner Ulster Bank’s disposal of Liam Carroll’s Greencore stake

LEAST IMPRESSIVE CEO: Richie Boucher of Bank of Ireland

NTR’s Jim Barry was just beaten by Bank of Ireland’s Richie Boucher as the least impressive chief executive, according to the analysts. While Mr Boucher’s vote wasn’t a surprise after the massive BoI €1.7bn rights issue failed to plug holes in the bank’s balance sheet, Mr Barry’s high ranking in the least-wanted gong was something of a wow moment. But NTR’s shares (traded on the grey market) have fallen from €2.50 a year ago down to just €1 in recent trades.

Former AIB chief Colm Doherty completed the minor placings, having been ousted as the bank lurched from crisis to crisis. CRH boss Myles Lee saw his reputation hit by a badly timed rights issue, over exposure to a slowing US market and a woeful shareprice performance. Another surprise was Aryzta’s Owen Killian’s appearance on the dud list. He was voted best chief executive by analysts just two years ago. Business is a fickle place. Last year’s winner Eugene Sheehy


THIS was a straight shootout between Paddy Power’s Breon Corcoran and Greencore’s Patrick Coveney, with the former JP Morgan banker Corcocan edging ahead in the final vote. The 39-year-old Corcoran is Paddy Power’s chief operating officer with special responsibilities for the bookie’s online business, Australia and development opportunities. Corcoran and Patrick Kennedy are sweating blood for the bookie – no bad thing, given that the executive bonus scheme could pay out up to €20m in two years’ time if the firm’s ambitious targets are met.

Kingspan’s Gene Murtagh (a previous winner) was in third spot. Aer Lingus investor relations chief Declan Murphy and Ryanair’s treasury executive Jimmy Dempsey were also pinpointed by analysts as being impressive performers. Last year’s winner Pat Kennedy

BEST SMALL COMPANY: First Derivatives

PAUL Kerley’s Norkom Technologies, which won the gong in 2008 and 2009, has been toppled by €90m-valued financial services firm First Derivatives, run by Brian Conlon as the best small company, say the analysts. Norkom is now in talks about a potential takeover, with First Derivatives sales and profits growing at a furious rate. John Lynch’s €55m-valued Merrion Pharmaceuticals and Anne Heraty’s CPL Resources battled it out for second place, with the drug company just edging it. Aryzta spin-off Origin also scored highly among the analysts polled, with ICG, Norkom and Abbey also picking up a few stray votes. Last year’s winner Norkom

BEST CEO: Patrick Kennedy

PADDY Power’s Patrick Kennedy has absolutely blitzed the opposition, romping home as the analysts’ choice as Best Irish CEO for the second year in a row. The 41-year-old Dubliner worked at McKinsey and KPMG before moving to become finance chief at Greencore, taking over at Paddy Power in 2006. Kennedy is also a non-executive director of Elan and Bank of Ireland, which makes one wonder just how good he’d be at Paddy Power if he didn’t have any outside distractions. Since taking over in 2006, Kennedy has more than doubled Paddy Power’s share price. In fact, the stock is one of the few Irish shares to return to its pre-crash highs. Faced with a big slowdown in the economy, €1.5bn-valued Paddy Power revved up expansion overseas with snappy deals in Australia and with the French PMU. Kerry Group’s Stan McCarthy pipped Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary for second place.

Last year’s winner: Pat Kennedy

BEST DEAL: Greencore merger at Northern Foods

GREENCORE’S merger with Northern Foods to create Essenta was by far the most comprehensive winner of any category. The new company will have sales of €2bn per year and will deliver savings of around 30 per cent. It will also enable Greencore to borrow money at cheaper rates. Another slick part of the deal is that Greencore boss Patrick Coveney gets to head up the merged company. Another Greencore deal — the disposal of its malt business — also picked up a few votes, so it’s hats off to the deal-making prowess of the gentlemen at Greencore. Aryzta’s $900m buyout of Fresh Start Bakeries and the C&C disposal of its €300m spirits business to William Grant filled the minor placings. Origin’s disposal of its Foods business was also highly rated by analysts.

Last year’s winner Paddy Power’s buyout of Sportstech

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