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PUNT: TVC's uninspiring windfall

INVESTMENT companies have enjoyed mixed fortunes on the Irish stock exchange over the years. TVC is the latest company to feel the heat.

Yesterday's news that the company will hand €50m back to investors through a special dividend looks like an admission of sorts that TVC does not have any great ambitions left these days beyond holding a considerable stake in UTV.

Like many investment companies around the globe, TVC can sometimes look like the plaything of the scions of some of the country's well-off families.

TVC executive chairman Shane Reihill (pictured), who will be the biggest beneficiary of the windfall, comes from a long line of well-established fuel merchants and is in line for a €13m share of the payout.

The share register suggests other winners from wealthy families include hotel heir David Doyle, Rory Quirke from the family which plans to build a replica of the White House and casino in Tipperary, and publishing heir Gavin O'Reilly. While investment companies come and go, The Punt rather wished the exchange offered a few more opportunities to those who like to spread their bets.

All investors, big and small, will be the losers if TVC really does plan to slowly withdraw from the investment market.

Calm after the NI storm

THE phone-hacking scandal has caused havoc among the UK press and essentially ended or paused the careers of numerous News International executives and editors, no matter how far removed they were from the day-to-day events at the 'News of the World' and the like.

The Punt notes with interest then that Tom Mockridge has been chosen as the new head of Virgin Media when UPC owner Liberty Global completes its takeover of Virgin later this year.

Mr Mockridge was News International (NI) chief executive during the scandal, and resigned in December after losing out on the top job at that company's books and publishing division.

He wasn't involved in the hacking scandal but was instead parachuted in to head the NI business from Sky Italia in July 2011 to replace Rebekah Brooks at the height of the media frenzy around the firm.

Within NI he was seen as a tough but fair boss who helped shepherd the 'London Times', 'Sunday Times', and 'The Sun' through arguably their most difficult period ever.

He'll be kept busy in his new role, but it will probably be a little quieter than his time at News International.

If nothing else, the frenzy that can engulf Rupert Murdoch's businesses at times will be absent. It will be interesting to see if the lower profile suits the hard-charging Mockridge. Maybe there is life after News International after all.

Research a little too taxing?

SEAN Fleming has a bee in his bonnet. The Laois-Offaly Fianna Fail TD was aghast yesterday upon discovering that local authorities will be able to vary the controversial property tax rate by as much as 15pc from 2015.

He says householders will be "stunned" to hear they face a possible hike.

Yet despite the deputy's protestations, this rule was not introduced yesterday.

It is contained in the property tax legislation – which Mr Fleming was invited to vote on.

The former chartered accountant calls it "a deeply cynical move" by the Government.

The 'revelation' came out at yesterday's Public Accounts Committee meeting with Revenue boss Josephine Feehily.

The Punt must commend Mr Fleming for being one of very few TDs who actually bothered to attend.

Alongside committee chair John McGuiness he gave Ms Feehily a decent grilling on all things tax-related.

But Mr Fleming let himself down with his blatant lack of knowledge on the property tax. The 15pc rate variation has been set out since day one.

Surely he should take the time to actually research a tax that his party has campaigned staunchly against.

Irish Independent