Wednesday 24 January 2018

Potential Nama conflict over Murphy

Tom Lyons

Gerry Murphy, a senior managing director in the multibillion Blackstone Group, is being tipped as the latest member of a high-powered group being set up to advise government on the National Asset Management Agency.

Mr Murphy, a former chief executive of Kingfisher, the owner of B&Q, is being championed for the new role by Michael Geoghegan, the former chief executive of HSBC bank, who chairs the group.

The proposed appointment of Mr Murphy has raised concerns that there could be a conflict of interest between his role advising the State on Nama and his position on the board of Blackstone.

The American investor has been linked more than 50 times in the press with the State property bank, both as a potential advisor and as an acquirer of its assets.

Blackstone was first reported to be looking at acquiring Nama assets in August 2009 just after the State agency was founded and more recently it looked at acquiring Treasury Holding's Nama debt relating to Battersea Power Station.

Stephen Schwarzman, Blackstone's co-founder who in 2010 compared US president Barack Obama's threat to increase taxes on the rich to Hitler's invasion of Poland, met Taoiseach Enda Kenny last year, according to his official diary. The purpose of the meeting was not disclosed.

Mr Murphy, who was also previously chief executive of Carlton Communications and Greencore, is also a non-executive director of British American Tobacco, which is chaired by Richard Burrows, the chairman of Bank of Ireland during the boom.

Michael Geoghegan is advising Minister for Finance Michael Noonan on a pro-bono basis and he has already published a review listing his recommendations for the agency including that it should be more "entrepreneurial," and should consider selling off some assets to be managed by third parties.

Sunday Indo Business

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