Saturday 20 January 2018

McGann stands out from crowd

THE IBEC CEO Conference has quickly become a landmark event on the Irish business calendar and this year's event was no different.

The agency attracted the likes of EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and a who's who of Irish business and international media to the Convention Centre in Dublin.

However, The Punt wonders about the value of such events. Too often, these type of conferences descend into backslapping and groupthink.

A year or two ago, growth was very much off the table and austerity was the only medicine for our problems.

Now the tables have very much turned and growth is all the rage. Is growth all the rage because that is genuinely what is required? Or does everyone want growth because the people beside them want growth? It's an open question.

Smurfit Kappa boss Gary McGann stood out from the crowd with a coruscating and at times pessimistic address on what Europe needs to do if it is to have any chance of keeping up with the rest of the world.

In a speech that wouldn't have been out of place at a conservative think-tank in the US, Mr McGann called for a focus on the likes of shale gas, criticised the dropping of cheap nuclear power, and called for regulation to be "enabling not disabling and cost neutral at worst".

The question of less regulation caught our eye. Mr McGann was a board member at Anglo Irish Bank from 2004 to its nationalisation in 2009, so we would have thought he would be acutely aware of the problems of not having strong enough regulation in industry.

Irish Independent

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