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John Hourican banks prize


Bank boss John Hourican. Photo: Bloomberg

Bank boss John Hourican. Photo: Bloomberg

Bank boss John Hourican. Photo: Bloomberg

The Punt certainly did not envy the task John Hourican faced when he took over at the Bank of Cyprus.

In 2013, when the Dubliner was appointed CEO, the bank needed to undergo a radical restructuring following the near collapse of the wider banking system in the country. Hourican also had to oversee the integration of the remaining good assets of its second-largest rival Laiki (Popular Bank), which was shut under the terms of Cyprus's EU bailout.

Fast-forward to July 2015 and Hourican is picking up an award for Banker of the Year, thank you very much.

The Irish boss scooped the gong at the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2015, where Bank of Cyprus was also awarded Best Bank in Cyprus.

The bank's achievements over the past year include raising €1bn of equity capital, passing the European Central Bank's stress tests, and listing new shares and recommencing trading on the Cyprus Stock Exchange and the Athens Exchange after a 21-month suspension.

Hourican himself said: "These awards honour the extraordinary efforts of the wider management team, and all the employees of Bank of Cyprus, in stabilising Cyprus's leading financial services group."

The banker announced in April that he has decided to return to Dublin, where his wife and four young children are based. The Punt is sure that he will not be long looking for work.

SendMyBag arrives in US

An Irish luggage-carrying company is to allow weary US customers to travel luggage-free after rolling out across Ireland and Europe.

SendMyBag is a door-to-door luggage transportation service that picks up bags at people's houses and then delivers them to their holiday destinations. Although the Punt tends to travel light (a toothbrush and teddy bear tends to suffice), SendMybag's services are obviously in demand as it is moving into the US following the launch of a transatlantic service in November.

On US domestic flights passengers will typically pay about $25 (€22.44) for the first bag, $35 for the second and $100-$200 for additional bags. A statement from the company said: "Travellers can skip check-in, avoid baggage carousel waits and never pay excess baggage again."

Founded in 2010, SendMyBag employs 12 people and had handled 100,000 in Europe by the end of last year. The company launched its Irish website late last year and is aiming to have 30,000 Irish customers by the end of the year.

Parcels directly to your door

Speaking of time-saving delivery companies, the Punt sees that An Post has a new competitor in the postal delivery game.

A new Irish firm has recently launched a website called ParcelDirect.ie that claims it can save customers as much as 65pc on their shipping costs.

The firm says that customers can choose and book a courier online, pick a collection date and will then have the parcel delivered to their home.

Sending a 5kg parcel anywhere in Ireland will cost €10.25 compared to about €19 with An Post, while sending the same package to the UK will cost €15.50 with ParcelDirect compared to more than €47 with An Post.

ParcelDirect founder Stephen O'Sullivan told the Punt that the company has paired up with several large supplier companies, which he said allows the site to negotiate its cheap rates. "When we ship something out they give us a discount and we pass it onto the customer, that's why it's so cheap," he said.

"At the moment we are shipping out a few hundred parcels a week," he said.

"Over the first 12 months we would hope to hit 12,000 parcels shipped out and then over the next 12 months we would look to double that."

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