Tuesday 21 November 2017

All change in the chamber

THE American Chamber of Commerce is these days one of the most powerful business lobby groups in the country; and, for better or worse, when it speaks the Government needs to listen.

Yesterday's appointment of Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Peter Keegan as president of the chamber marks something of a departure for the group, but it may be an important one.

The most recent presidents have come from the IT and pharmaceuticals sectors. There hasn't been a banker in the job since before the bust.

It can be easy to get obsessed over the tech sector here – after all, the likes of Google, Intel and so on are among the highest profile companies here – so, having a banker in the top job may bring a new perspective to the job.

In his day-to-day role in BAC, Mr Keegan has a reputation as a canny operator with a talent for getting things done.

A long-time Merrill Lynch employee, he is something of a survivor, having successfully navigated Merrill's collapse and sale to Bank of America in 2008 while being a senior executive in the Dublin office, before ascending to the top job.

At his unveiling yesterday, Mr Keegan closely followed the company line about preserving our corporation tax, while improving our talent pool.

The "skills gap" has been a constant theme for the chamber in recent years.

More interesting, however, was his emphasis on taxation beyond just the corporate tax issue.

He spoke as much about income tax rates and the need to keep Ireland attractive to foreign workers as much as companies.

Could this be a chamber theme for the year ahead?

Irish Independent

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