Business Irish

Monday 20 November 2017

How 2013 turned out to be lucky for some

It may not have been a vintage year for many in business, but several canny investors are enjoying a black Christmas, says Roisin Burke

Dermot Desmond
Dermot Desmond
Michael Hasenstab
Kelly Martin
Stephen Vernon

Roisin Burke

WHILE it may have been only a so-so 12 months for most of us, 2013 was a vintage year for some fortunate people who cashed in big time despite, or in some cases because of, our economic woes. We look at those for whom the past year was truly a lucky 13.

William McMorrow

Californian private equity company Kennedy Wilson, which is chaired by Mr McMorrow, defied market sentiment and placed a monster $3.5bn (€2.55bn) bet on Irish economic recovery in the wake of the 2010 bailout. That bet is now paying off big time.

In November it emerged that Kennedy Wilson had quietly offloaded the 0.8 per cent Bank of Ireland stake it acquired in the 2011 rights issue at a profit of at least €35m. Kennedy Wilson retains a slew of other Irish assets which it purchased at fire-sale prices including the Alliance Building on Grand Canal Dock and the State Street building in the IFSC.

Michael Hasenstab

Way back in 2010 and 2011, in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of the bailout, the NTMA couldn't give Irish government bonds away for love nor money. At one stage in mid-2011 the yield on the bonds ballooned to almost 15 per cent and at that price they were either about to default or were an absolute steal.

Mr Hassenstab, vice-president of giant US investment firm Franklin Templeton, stepped in where others feared to tread -- and danced a jig. He snapped up an estimated 10 per cent of the Irish bond market as other investors panicked and sold their holdings for knockdown prices.

Hasenstab is now reaping the reward, sitting on as estimated €1.9bn profit. Nice work if you can get it.

Kevin O'Leary

Mr O'Leary, the founder and chief executive of Cork-based medical software firm Qumas, cashed in big time when the company was sold to US rival Accelrys for $50m (€36m) this month.

This makes it a very happy Christmas for the computer science graduate who was short-listed for the Ernst & Young entrepreneur of the year award in 2009.

Stephen Vernon

The crash felled all of Ireland's property titans. All, that is, except for one. Green Property boss Stephen Vernon.

When all of his rivals were losing their heads, Mr Vernon kept his. Refusing to be carried away by the property market euphoria, he took Green private in 2002 and sold off virtually all of its assets except the Blanchardstown Centre over the next five years.

Now, 11 years after the take-private, Green is back in the public markets. In July it launched a real estate investment trust (REIT) on the Irish Stock Exchange to invest in distressed Irish property assets. Such was the demand from investors, including legendary hedge fund manager John Paulson, that the REIT was able to raise €310m rather than the €200m which it had originally planned.

Floated at €1 each in July, shares in the Green REIT are now trading at €1.37.

Kelly Martin

Elan, the Irish-based pharmaceutical company founded by Don Panoz in 1969, was taken over by US rival Perrigo in a $8.6bn (€6.2bn) deal. The takeover vindicated the stance of Elan chief executive Kelly Martin who had argued that the rival Royalty bid under-valued his company.

Holding out for top dollar delivered an extra $5.25 (€3.83) per share for Elan shareholders, about $2bn (€1.46bn) in total.

Mr Martin himself also did very nicely from the deal, earning an estimated €55m (with Elan picking up the tab for any tax due) in severance pay and share options.

So generous was the deal that shareholders rights group PIRC unsuccessfully urged Elan shareholders to vote against it.

Patrick Purcell & Kevin Barry

Shannon-based drill producer Mincon, whose products were used in the rescue of the trapped Chilean miners in 2010, listed on the Irish Stock Exchange in November -- the first company to float on the beleaguered Dublin market since the Celtic Tiger bubble burst.

The issue was well received with the shares, which were initially priced at 87 cent, now trading at 92.5 cent. At the current price founder Patrick Purcell's stake is worth €110m while chief executive Kevin Barry's shares are worth more than €27m.

Dermot Desmond

With its rival Betfair almost 20 times larger, Betdaq badly needed an 800lb gorilla in its corner if it was to avoid becoming an also-ran in the battle of the betting exchanges.

Fortunately for Betdaq's owner, financier Dermot Desmond, giant UK bookie Ladbrokes was desperate to break into the betting exchange market.

The result was last January's deal in which Ladbrokes agreed to pay €30m, half in shares and half in cash, for Betdaq.

That may not even be the half of it. Not alone did Ladbrokes also agree an additional undisclosed earn-out payment for Betdaq it also paid €4m for a 10 per cent stake in TBH Guernsey, the company that owns Betdaq's betting exchange technology, with an option to buy out the rest of TBH after four years.

Looks like another canny deal for Mr Desmond.

Daniel Fuss

Mr Fuss also defied the 2010-11 market gloom and placed a big bet on Irish government bonds.

The Loomis Sayles Bond Fund, which is managed by Mr Fuss, was at one stage the second-largest holder of our bonds after Franklin Templeton.

However, recent regulatory filings show that unlike Mr Hassenstab, Mr Fuss sold a large proportion of his bond holdings earlier this year and locked in an estimated 50 per cent profit.

Tom Morrisroe

Tom Morrisroe hit the jackpot big time in October when his firm, the Now Factory, was sold to IBM.

While the terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed it is reputed that Big Blue paid in the region of $100m (€73m) for the company which, if true, would make it the biggest Irish buyout of 2013.

Founded by Mr Morrisroe in 2007, the Now Factory provides communications companies with the software that allows them to monitor mobile data usage across their networks in real time.

It has customers in 29 countries. These include 40 of the world's largest communications providers.

Irish Independent

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