Friday 24 November 2017

Drummer and the German bank boss share hot water

Georg Funke (left) and David Drumm.
Georg Funke (left) and David Drumm.
Nick Webb

Nick Webb

Georg Funke, the former chief executive of German property lender Hypo Real Estate (HRE) is facing criminal charges of false financial reporting, almost six years after the near-implosion of the bank's Dublin subsidiary, Depfa in 2008.

The meltdown and nationalisation of HRE/Depfa was the largest bank rescue in German history, with a bill of close to €140bn in bail-outs and credit lines for the clean-up operation.

Funke lived in Dublin for a period as the German-owned bank got into some pretty racy financial dealing before being torpedoed when credit markets slammed shut after Lehman Brothers collapsed. He lived in the millionaires' estate of Abington, in Malahide, where residents have included former Boyzone singer Ronan Keating, controversial House of Prayer founder Christina Gallagher, Davy Stockbrokers high-flier Barry Nangle, former Zoe Developments boss David Torpey, some serious tech heavyweights like Openet's Joe Hogan.

Gallagher's house is up for sale for around €2.7m, while a Chinese buyer is said to be looking at inking a deal for Keating's old home.

Another neighbour - less than "100 yards away" according to my mole - was former Anglo boss David Drumm, who is now in the US, far away from the mess he left behind. What are the odds of two chief executives of two smashed-up banks almost sharing a garden hedge. Between Anglo and Depfa, German and Irish taxpayers have been hit for the bones of €170bn in loose change. Anglo and Depfa were two of the worst bank flameouts in history as they both went pearshaped in 2008. Surely they couldn't have been comparing notes on how to run a bank?


Jim Flavin and the Fyffes shares

Banana company Fyffes is doing the splits as a group backed by Brazil's second richest man, Joseph Safra, tries to gatecrash its $1bn merger with Chiquita. While Chiquita has snubbed the all-cash offer from the Brazilians, the game is far from over.

But what of the shareholders? Some of the wealthiest and most influential players in Irish business hold shares, according to the register which I filleted last week.

Jurys Doyle tycoon Walter Beatty has 7,700 shares worth €6,800, with John Hennessy, chairman of recruitment group CPL, owning 8,380 shares in Fyffes. Hotelier Jim McGettigan has 23,394 shares worth around €20,000. Avoca retailer Donald Pratt holds 
around €8,600 worth of shares, with Lochlann Quinn Jr also in there.

Breifne O'Brien was also a shareholder but sold out during the boom.

Former Anglo Irish Bank finance chief Willie McAteer exited Fyffes back in May 2011. And former Justice Minister Alan Shatter is listed as holding 2,000 shares, dating back almost a decade.

The former shareholders were just as interesting. These included Park developments builder and yachtsman Michael Cotter, Spar magnate John Clohisey, Gowan Group's Gemma and Michael Maughan and developer Francis Rhatigan.

The most curious was former DCC chief Jim Flavin and his family, who held shares in their name until March 2012 - long after he was ousted from DCC over some high profile and rather messy Fyffes share dealing.

His wife and family owned shares for more than a decade after DCC offloaded its stake. It is most curious that his family should have held onto their shares when DCC sold out.


Google and ex-Nama head Mulcahy bend Noonan's ear

Nama's former property head John Mulcahy met Finance Minister Michael Noonan in Government Buildings last February, a day after Noonan had attended a Nama 'Strategy Day' at the Herbert Park Hotel.

Mulcahy, the former head of Jones Lang LaSalle in Ireland, announced his retirement from Nama in October last year before going on gardening leave for six months.

The corridors of power at the Department of Finance have welcomed some other influential visitors and lobbyists.

February also saw the arrival of RBS chief executive Ross McEwan, who is chewing over how to rid himself of the mess that is Ulster Bank.

Morgan Stanley has been appointed to look at a smart way of letting RBS fix up the bank with a view to floating it, merging it or selling it off to private equity. Investec boss Michael Cullen also called by that week.

There was also a lunch with bon viveur and Goldman Sachs International chairman Peter Sutherland on Friday, March 7. Sutherland has been roped in to help the Vatican clean up its banks. He may have learnt a thing or two from Noonan.

Coolmore Stud's Eddie Irwin, who is one of John Magnier's top financial advisers, met Noonan in March, with Centrebridge Partners Europe boss Lance West also dropping in for a chinwag.

Google, the best connected multinational in the land, was also in and out. Irish chief John Herlihy came in for a visit with Liz Cunningham in mid-June. Ireland's very popular tax regime was clearly on the menu, as Cunningham is Google's head of EMEA tax unit.


Slattery close to making jet-propelled fortune

Clareman Domhnal Slattery may be on the cusp of making one of the fastest fortunes in Irish  business history.

The former GPA executive is close to selling his turbo-charged aircraft leasing firm Avolon to a Chinese group made up of AVIC Capital and state sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation.

On Friday, shares in AVIC 
Capital were suspended in Shanghai as talks to buy out Avolon were confirmed. It had been suggested that the Chinese may pay as much as €12bn for Avolon, which was only set up in May 2010.

Slattery (47) and his Dublin-based team have raised $7.5bn from private equity backers such as Cinven and a chunk of bank debt.

"The size of the deal mentioned is not accurate," a statement from AVIC said. It added that it remained in talks with relevant parties but that no deal had been reached yet. "There is still uncertainty that a deal can be completed."

Slattery and his management's stake in the firm is held through a group of Delaware limited partnerships, according to the prospectus.

Slattery has already started to cash in. Company filings show that on June 5, 2014, Avolon bought shares from Slattery "for a purchase price of $200 per share, representing an aggregate purchase price of approximately $5.6m". He had borrowed $10.6m using a "back to back loan facility" provided by one of Avolon's backers. That's now paid off.

If he can wrap up the Avolon sale, his days of borrowing could be over.

Sunday Indo Business

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