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Reinvention the name of game in this new reality Winners

It's a sign of the times that the losers are so much more interesting than the winners in our 2010 lowdown. Far from focusing on mega-deal making, our movers and shakers are either rushing frantically to protect existing assets or to reinvent themselves in a new reality. And in many cases, making damn sure they keep in their wives' good books.


David Drumm

CROUCHING down behind the door of your Cape Cod mansion dodging questions from Charlie Bird is not a good look. This is the state of indignity the former Anglo boss found himself in March, just as the bust bank announced €12.7bn worth of losses. The rest of 2010 did not improve.

He declared bankruptcy in the US, owing €10m plus. His finances are being minutely probed, down to Christmas presents and school fees. The chartered accountants watchdog CARB is investigating him in relation to concealing loans and the activities of the Anglo 10 and Sean FitzPatrick, with a hearing due in March.

Sean FitzPatrick

The ex-Anglo chairman was arrested by the Garda Fraud Bureau in March and questioned about financial irregularities at his former bank.

Declared bankrupt in July, he told the High Court he is living on €188 a week -- but travelled from court in a green Jaguar and managed a few jaunts to Marbella all the same. He too is being investigated by the CARB.

Bernard McNamara

The broke master builder is believed to have debts of €1.5bn. As with many former boomtime players, his wife holds the purse strings now, with several property assets transferred to her name.

Nama appointed receivers to Michael McNamara Construction earlier this year, the business his father founded and he built into an empire, and to key company Radora. Six more companies associated with him went under.

Gillian Bowler

The last of the old guard departs. Bank chairmen fell like skittles after the banking collapse, but the Irish Life & Permanent (IL&P) chairwoman clung fast to her €200,000-a-year gig.

"My moral compass told me I had a need to stay," she explained.

Despite the shady €7.5bn year-end deposit by IL&P with Anglo in 2008 and despite ignoring calls for then CEO Denis Casey to go, she stayed.

Last week, she announced she would go early this year, sans bonus.

George Lee

Fine Gael wanted him as a poster boy to boost popularity; former RTE economics editor Lee wanted to be involved in the nitty gritty of policy. He resigned from the Dail saying he had been given "no influence, no input whatsoever" in shaping Fine Gael economic policy. RTE welcomed him back to its bosom to replace John Murray on the The Business Show.

Sean Quinn

Quinn and his family lost control over the profitable Quinn Insurance, which was forced into administration in March, despite his bitter protests. Once worth an estimated €3bn, the self-made Cavan man and his family now owe almost that to Anglo.

Willie Walsh

It's been rare this year to see a headline with British Airways (BA) in it that didn't also have the phrase 'strike ballot' alongside.

Long-running disputes with staff have cost BA £150m (€175m), as former Aer Lingus boss Walsh sought to cut staff and pay while cabin crew mutineed repeatedly. The recent merger with Iberia was marked by yet another union strike ballot.

At least he had the good grace to turn down his £334,000 (€388,600) bonus for the second year running. Irish execs take note.

Richard Nesbitt

With the help of deal maker Niall McFadden, Nesbitt's Arnotts splurged on a square mile of the centre of Dublin and planned a massive development vision -- just as the property market was peaking.

The revered department store group was revealed to be €300m in debt. Earlier in the year, the banks took control.

Paddy McKillen

A seven-judge Supreme Court sitting is hearing the secretive developer's attempt to stop the transfer of €2.1bn of loans to Nama.

Meanwhile, his efforts to sell out of his interest in the group that owns Claridges and other hotel interests in London appear to have stalled.

Colm Doherty

The AIB old guard shoe-horned him into the MD job at the bank, much to Finance minister Brian Lenihan's fury.

Shortly after the Central Bank announced the capital AIB needed had risen from €7.4bn to €10.4bn, Doherty said he would leave. He goes just as AIB is nationalised.

Kelly Martin

He presided over a boiling cauldron of board tensions and criticism from outside and within at Elan this year.

There were more dissident shareholders and a listless share price. Then came a US justice department finding that Elan paid doctors illegal sweeteners such as junkets to Bermuda to persuade them to prescribe a drug called Zonegran to children. Elan will pay $200m (€149m) plus in record fines and costs.

Garret Kelleher

It was to be the western world's tallest building. God- bothering developer Kelleher's 2,000ft Chicago Spire dream in the US never got beyond a hole in the ground.

This month, the western world's most expensive black hole went into receivership as Anglo looked for its €77m in loans back. Kelleher put circa $194m (€144m) of his own money into the project.

Derek Quinlan

The tax inspector turned tycoon turned Nama club member is divesting assets rapidly to pay down debts.

Much of the London empire, including City Group tower is for sale. Banco Santander headquarters in Madrid is thought to be for sale. His south of France mansion La Villa Carriere is on the market, as is his gracious Shrewsbury Road, Dublin 4, home, both at cut-rate prices.

Johnny Ronan

Jetting about with models such as Rosanna Davison while the taxpayer helps prop up your business is not a great corporate image. Ronan had to go and sit on the naughty step, or "step back from business" for a spell after that Morocco trip.

He reappeared in public for the opening of the Conference Centre, a Treasury-Dublin City Council joint project. He gave attendee and supporter Bertie Ahern a big bear hug. Brian Cowen did the honours and opened it officially. The word white elephant hung in the air.

Sean Dunne

Last year, Dunner told the New York Times he could be "technically insolvent".

This year, he has been busy reinventing himself. He cropped up in salubrious New York circles pressing flesh and claiming not to own an exclusive $2m (€1.4m) home in a posh Connecticut suburb near Diana Ross's house. Neighbours irritated by his renovation plans are threatening not to introduce him at the local yacht club. That'll teach him.

At home, a vastly scaled down development has been approved at planning for his €380m purchased Jury's Ballsbridge site.

Brian Lenihan

"Our plan is working," he said in his 2009 Budget speech. "We have turned a corner."

It might be safer to assume all Lenihan's pronouncements are 1984-style doublespeak and mean the opposite.

In 2010, the economy did indeed turn a corner, into a cul-de-sac. The IMF/EU bailout, being locked out of the markets, a Budget that isn't leaving us wearing hair shirts as much as going shirtless, owning more banks and paying bonuses to executives who helped tank the banks were all lowlights of this year.

Brendan McDonagh

The Nama CEO was forced to admit on last week's Prime Time programme that Nama-ed developers such as north Dubliner Gerry Gannon had been able to transfer vast amounts of assets into their wives' names virtually unchallenged. Claims that these issues will be pursued have yet to bear fruit, the programme suggested.


Patrick Coveney

He guided the merger of the biggest deal (one of few) of the year: Greencore's merger with Northern Foods. They will become a €1.7bn turnover business known as Essenta with Coveney as CEO of the new outfit.

Greencore's yearly profits rose 21 per cent to €54.1m to September. Coveney's pay is up by a third to €1.6m.

Patrick Kennedy

Kennedy's Paddy Power bookmakers resisted the recession pretty well.

The threat of a gambling levy taxing internet and telephone betting threatens in the Finance Bill, but meanwhile expansion plans here, in Britain and Australia continue apace and Kennedy is eyeing up the £250m British tote. Shares are up 25 per cent since this time last year.

Paul Coulson

Coulson's Ardagh Glass paid €1.7bn to buy seafood and paint can maker Impress, forming a €3bn international entity. Both entities carry a lot of debt, but that doesn't seem to have worried investors so far.

Padraig McManus

The ESB CEO took home a package worth €752,000 a year, on last accounts, or three times the proposed public servant pay cap. So far there's little indication that packages of this scale will be capped, due to 'contractual issues', Brian Lenihan says.

Barry O'Leary, IDA

The proof that some public sector bosses are effective. Twitter is likely to join Facebook and Google here, along with HP and Citi Group expanding. His pay? A relatively modest €200,000.

Cyril McGuire

The Trintech co-founder and chief executive netted about $27m (€20m) when the Nasdaq-quoted Irish software firm sold for $129.4m (€96.4m) to US company Spectrum.

Padraig O Ceidigh

The Icelandic volcano fallout nearly finished Aer Arann, pushing it into examinership. O Ceidigh, who had taken a back seat from its day-to-day running, won back control and found new backers.

A new franchise agreement with Aer Lingus helped sustain it this year. Flights servicing Southend in Britain are planned for next year.

John Dunsmore

Dunsmore may be proving he's worth his stonking great €17m bonus package.

He managed to tidy up C&C's balance sheet by selling off its liquors business for €300m, and operating profits at the Bulmers and Tennent's maker were up 29 per cent to €63.4m in the first half of 2010. With a boosted share price, C&C is a hotly tipped acquisition target.

Jack O'Connor

Even as Ireland's bond market borrowing rate soared, the SIPTU president managed to nail down the Croke Park Agreement protecting public sector pay. The IMF bailout hasn't really dented it.

Christoph Mueller,

Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus actually had an all right year in spite of ash clouds and falling passenger numbers.

Mueller pushed through cost cutting and new contracts. The airline has shored up a €1bn cash reserve, but more weather chaos means a muted end to the year.

Patrick Honohan

Public servants aren't known for clear-cut forthrightness, but Honohan has proved to be his own man. While the Government denied that an EU/IMF rescue was imminent, the governor of the Central Bank had the decency to tell us what was going on. In a radio interview in November, he admitted we were heading for bailout.

His report on the banking crisis is similarly straight about the failures that made things go so wrong.

Martin Naughton

Super-rich businessmen haemorrhaged fortunes, but Naughton remained one of the wealthiest people in the country. The Glen Dimplex owner chairs the world's biggest electrical manufacturer with a turnover of €1.5bn, employing 8,000 people.

Michael Noonan

Back from obscurity with a vengeance, the Fine Gael finance spokesman has been livening things up no end.

In a recent post-Budget TV appearance he wiped the floor with Lenihan, showing he's not just master of a well-placed barbed comment, but knows his economic stuff to boot. He could be Fine Gael's not-so-secret election weapon.

German bankers

Having lent to Anglo et al with abandon during the profligate boom, many German bankers must have had many a sleepless night since the Irish economy came crashing down. Not least when Chancellor Angela Merkel said bondholders should share losses.

German financial institutions hold circa €240bn in Irish bonds. The bailout and the Government's assurance it wouldn't stick it to our creditors and not pay must have been a sweet relief this year. For now.

Donal Kinsella

The former Kenmare Resources vice-chairman scored record damages from his ex-employer for the contents of a press release it issued following an unfortunate naked sleep-walking incident. His €10m award is five times more than any previous libel payout.

John Mulcahy

Profits were down more than 40 per cent in last accounts at commercial realtor Jones Lang La Salle, where Mulcahy was MD during the boom. This year, he became head of portfolio management at Nama.

Mulcahy, a key adviser on boomtime deals such as the Ringsend Irish Glass Bottle site, recruited a crew of portfolio managers for Nama earlier in the year and more are being sought. So estate agent types such as Mulcahy can reinvent themselves overseeing the selling off of hair-cut assets they didn't spot as overvalued during the boom. You couldn't make it up.

Sunday Independent