Kyran McLaughlin (75), one of the biggest shareholders in stockbroker Davy, stepped down from his role as head of capital markets at the firm in 2018, to be succeeded by AIB CEO Bernard Byrne. Once dubbed the most powerful man in Irish stockbroking, he is to remain as deputy chairman of the company. McLaughlin’s son last year stepped down from his own role as head of private banking at AIB to help manage his father’s private wealth, it was reported. McLaughlin’s stake in Davy is estimated to be worth well in excess of €50m and he remains a director of a plethora of Irish companies, including Ryanair, where, prior to becoming a director in 2001, he was a key adviser to the company on its 1997 flotation. During a more recent turbulent period for the Ryanair board, McLaughlin survived a challenge to his seat but some investors made it clear that they had an issue with directors staying on for too long a period.
Serial entrepreneur Mark Roden’s (59) company Ding is showing no sign of slowing its expansion in the lucrative mobile phone top up market in which it has as many as 500,000 users per month. In 2019, it announced that it would open a London office but that this would not be at the expense of its busy global hub in Dublin, where it said it would also add jobs. Roden started the company — which has revenues of $500m (€440m) a year — based on a conversation he had with an Indian waiter in Dubai 14 years ago. He had stepped away from the day-to-day running for a while but took a firm hold of the reins again last year, with plans to raise over €50m for expansion. From Dublin, Roden dropped out of dentistry in Trinity after a year and went to work for Denis O’Brien, helping start up Esat. He is also an angel investor and peer-to-peer lender.
Biotech entrepreneur Ronan Lambe (80) made €85m before tax from selling shares in drug-testing company Icon of which he was co-founder with John Climax. He remains, along with co-founder Climax, a director of Leopardstown-based DS Biopharma, a company focused on improving the quality of life for people with diseases. It lost over €9m in 2018 after spending €5.5m on R&D, with total liabilities amounting to over €36m, according to the latest accounts available. In 2018 Lambe retired from Icon after a 28-year stint at the company. In 2016 it launched a spin-out company focused solely on inflammatory disorders called Afimmune. Lambe is also a well-known champion racehorse owner, with success at Ascot, Cheltenham and Galway.
Cairn Homes has become one of the most high-profile housebuilders in the Irish market, selling more than 1,000 last year and recently getting permission for more than 400 homes in Greystones. The founders of the listed company — brothers Michael Stanley (54) and Kevin Stanley (47) and Alan McIntosh (52) — received a share allocation valued at €61.4m in 2017. Kevin has since left the business and the founders sold shares worth a reported €24m last April, bringing their combined holding to less than 8pc of a company with a market capitalisation of over €850m.
There was a collective sigh of relief from Dublin’s late night revellers last November as landmark Dublin nightclub Copper Face Jacks was taken off the market by owner Cathal Jackson, having been put up for sale earlier this year. Property experts had predicted the Harcourt Street venue could have fetched €40m for Jackson (64), a former garda from Laois, and his wife Paula. It was reported that they had decided to sell because Jackson had some health concerns but that he had fully recovered his health. The club has been an ever-present draw on the Dublin late-night scene since it opened in 1995, famously featuring in Dublin captain Bryan Cullen’s All Ireland winning speech in 2011, not to mention in its very own musical. At the end of January 2018, Breanagh Catering Ltd, the company that operates Copper Face Jacks, had retained profits of just over €75m, with profit before tax for the year of just over €4m. In the 12 months to the end of January 2018, the couple shared in a bumper pay packet of €1.28m.
Tech entrepreneur Colm Lyon (56) sold his online payments company Realex to New York-listed Global Payments for €115m in 2015, making around €92m from the deal. As part of that deal, Lyon acquired a London-based business and consumer payments company, Fire Financial Services into which he has invested a reported €11.5m to date. The most recent investment of €3m came in January 2019, with Lyon saying that it was needed to tide Fire over while the impact of Brexit played out. He indicated that it may seek outside investment at a later date. Losses in the year to the end of April 2019 were €2.1m, with retained losses rising to €10.9m.
Michael Stone (51), a former Dublin hurler, owns Designer Group, a firm of engineering contractors he founded in 1992. Turnover at the Blanchardstown-based company was up from €149m to €204m in the year to the end of January 2019, with profit before tax rising to €6.4m. The group employs up to 650 people when large projects are under way, and it has worked for big name clients including Amazon, Microsoft, Dropbox, HP, Primark, Hilton, HSBC and Bloomberg.
It had over €24m in cash, accounts showed. In 2018 Stone’s company agreed to sell 50pc of its facilities management unit to Sisk and the two companies last year launched a new facility management service under the brand name Sensori. Turnover at the joint venture for the year to the end of January 2019 jumped €8m to over €21m, with profit topping €1m.
In 2017, Declan Gallagher (50) sold a majority stake in his Donegal-headquartered Promise Gluten Free to a London-based private equity firm, Mayfair Equity Partners. The €67m deal reportedly valued the company at €100m. During 2019 he stood down from the board of the business he started in 2011 but, still a minority shareholder, took up a new role as head of its innovation unit. Before the sale, Gallagher had already grown the operation to a point where it shipped produce to Australia and the US and into major multiples such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer.
The bakery had originally opened in Ardara, Co Donegal in 1968 but was bought by baked goods company Aryzta in 2007. But when four years later, Aryzta announced that it planned to close the bakery and relocate operations to Dublin with the loss of 189 jobs, Gallagher stepped in and bought it. The bakery then developed the successful gluten-free Promise and PureBred brands.
Mayo entrepreneur Frank Salmon’s (55) Kiltimagh, Co Mayo-based technology distribution firm CMS expanded into the French market last year with a deal to acquire the Paris-based company Avesta. CMS is believed to have sales of about €30m per annum. The deal is part of Salmon’s five-year growth plan that aims to double its sales to €1bn. The business employs more than 400 people across 12 locations here, in Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, France, Australia and China. Turnover in 2018 €434m and profit before tax was €14.5m. Salmon owns 83pc of Storit Ltd, the parent company of CMS.
Wicklow-based Richard Roche (62) heads up the family behind the Roches Stores chain. In 2006, the family sold the leasehold of the Roches Stores department store business to Debenhams for €29m but held on to nine of the properties, as well as property company, Westfield Investments.
The company is unlimited and has not published any accounts in a number of years but the travails of Debenhams, given that the Roche family remains its biggest landlord in Ireland, will have been a concern. Westfield is developing property in the UAE and Glasgow. But London is its key focus where it is developing 400 residential units, office properties in three developments and a hotel with a conference centre. In Reading it launched an 18-storey mixed-use development in 2017.
The wider family of London-based financier Shane Reihill (54) made an undisclosed amount in 2018 from the sale of the family oil business Tedcastle. He himself earned about €41m when his venture capital firm TVC Holdings was delisted from stockmarkets in 2013. He is now the non executive chairman of Irish contraceptive and endocrinology healthcare firm Consilient. It lost €844,000 in 2018 but shareholders funds fell from €25.4m to €23.4m in 2018. A championship poker player, he benefited when live music managers, The Agency Group (TAG), was sold to the United Talent Agency.
Leo Crawford, chief executive of Irish Spar franchise owner BWG, and two other directors of the group were due to share a cash payout of about €41.5m just after Christmas, valuing the group’s total equity at about €415m. The payment was part of an estimated €80m deal to sell the three business partners’ remaining 20pc stake in the group to BWG’s majority shareholder from South Africa, The Spar Group (TSG). It bought a majority stake in the business in 2014. Two further payments are due to the trio in 2020 and in 2022.
Gene (48), son of Kingspan founder Eugene Murtagh, is the CEO of the Cavan-based construction materials company. Shares in the company have improved, up around 50pc on this time last year. Murtagh enjoys a salary of nearly €2m a year and owns shares in the Kingspan company.
Forklift business Combilift was started in Monaghan 22 years ago by engineers Martin McVicar (48) and Robert Moffett (64) and is well on its way to becoming a billion euro company within 10 years. The company’s business plan sees it doubling turnover — 97pc of which is generated from exports — every five years, meaning it expects to go from €300m last year to €600m in five years. Before the company went private in 2005, it had accumulated profits of almost €23m on a turnover of €53m. It is difficult to put a value on the business, which recently opened a new facility built at a cost of €50m where it manufactures close to 7,000 multidirectional forklifts a year. We conservatively value the business at €80m, although it is likely to be worth substantially more than this.
The former boss of Paddy Power, Patrick Kennedy (50), became chairman of Bank of Ireland in 2018, following in the footsteps of his father David who had once served as deputy chief executive of the bank. The younger Kennedy found himself in the thick of things at his first AGM as shareholders accused the board of not having “skin in the game”. But with over 100,000 Bank of Ireland shares to his name, Kennedy was well ahead of most of his fellow board members, even if that will have eaten away at his overall wealth pile somewhat. He had made his name — and his money — working for Paddy Power and held a substantial amount of shares there too when he left and they — in their new guise as Flutter — are up by a third over the past year so much better than his bank shares. In 2016, he purchased a substantial Victorian property in Dartry, Dublin 6, for over €10m.
Entrepreneur Michael Holland (65) is the owner of The Fitzwilliam Hotel Group, as well as the Four Star pizza chain of 57 outlets. The CEO and owner of the Ampleforth Group, he recently carried out a €20m investment into the expansion of his luxury hotels, the Fitzwilliam in Dublin and the Fitzwilliam in Belfast. Ampleforth posted a profit before tax of €4.3m and shareholder funds rose to €69.1m in 2018 from €65.4m a year earlier. Holland sold his holiday business, Irish Welcome Tours, to a UK rival for a reported €20m in 2017. He is a keen yachtsman.
Former investment banker Barry O’Callaghan (48) went back to school after making his money in the world of publishing. In September 2018, he opened Ireland’s most expensive fee-paying school in conjunction with Hong Kong-based Nord Anglia Education. Prior to that, the Corkman had built Riverdeep and then Houghton Mifflin Harcourt into one of the world’s biggest online publishers. He faced his share of financial troubles during the economic crash when the bond-holders moved in but has since sold his majority stake in Rise Global to Bain Capital for $140m. He also owns the five-star Cliff House hotel.
Longford brothers Mike (56), Pat (59) and Billy (61) Glennon have built up a hugely successful timber business by quickly moving goods between Ireland and the UK. Sales grew from €129m to €147m in 2018, with profits before tax rising from €7.5m to €12m. Shareholder equity in the firm grew almost €10m to €83m. In 2018, the company invested €15m in a biomass generator at its Scottish plant despite its stated fears about the potential impact of Brexit on the timber sector. In 2019, it was reported that the company had invested €20m on its Fermoy mill, including €14m on advanced systems for grading the quality of the logs.
Music legend Van Morrison (74) released his well reviewed 41st studio album, Three Chords & the Truth, last October, meaning he has released four albums in six years. The singer — knighted by the Queen of England — also owns residential properties in Belfast and Bath. Shareholders funds at his company Exile productions rose to £7.6m at the end of April 2019, up from €6.9m a year earlier. Profits were £1.39m for the year and do not include sales of his most recent recording or indeed his upcoming tour.
The Wexford-based Pettitt family can trace its business empire back to 1825. It owns six SuperValu supermarkets, five hotels, three pubs, a farm, some property interests and a bowling and leisure centre. In 2018, turnover dipped fractionally below €130m and pre-tax profits were down marginally to €6.24m. Retail performed well for the group in a competitive environment but Its Talbot Hotel Group was facing challenges from Brexit, as well as high VAT and insurance costs. The group is run by Cormac Pettitt (40) while his father Desmond (69) is the majority shareholder.
The chairman of ICG, owner of Irish Ferries, John McGuckian (80) has extensive interests in Ireland and internationally. Last year, McGuckian, the second-longest-serving chairman of an Iseq 20-listed company, came under fire from activist shareholders who wanted a new chairman at the ferry company. But shareholders in the company unanimously backed the Ballymena man. He is also a former director of a number of listed companies and has previously acted as the chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, the Industrial Development Board for Northern Ireland and UTV Media.
Limerick-born engineer Hugh O’Donnell (54) has not lost his taste for investing in the sector. In September it was reported that his Mac X3 investment firm had backed Pilot Photonics, a laser communications business spun out from DCU and which recently won a contract with the European Space Agency to work on advanced communication satellites. O’Donnell has previously backed companies in areas such as green technology, oil, gas and bioscience services. But his major business success was to lead Clonmel-based engineering firm Kentz as it expanded to become a global player in the oil-services sector with 14,000 workers. He is now chairman of Ingenium, a consultancy and training company which runs a range of leadership development programmes for SMEs.
Foxrock-based Don Maher (58) is a major shareholder in Fonua, the country’s largest mobile phone distribution company which he bought with a colleague as part of an MBO some years back. Vodafone Ireland had also been a shareholder in Fonua but sold its 49pc stake to Maher and his business partner Fergus de Burca in 2017. Results for the year to the end of June 2019 saw turnover fall 8.4pc to €248m, although profits rose 2.2pc to €5.6m after cost cutting at the company. Fonua is also expanding its Mint+ range, which offers refurbished high-end phones at cheaper prices.
In 2016/2017, a dividend of €25m was paid to shareholders. That fell to just over €700 the following year but rose to €1.5m in the year to the end of June 2019. Maher also has a valuable stake in the retail chain, Homestore+More and in December it was reported that Maher was one of the investors in a €2m funding round for internet of things (IoT) company Endeavour Technologies.
Mary (71) and Kevin (69) Clancy own UK civil engineering firm based in Middlesex, Clancy Group, one of the largest privately owned construction firms in the UK. The company employs 2,500 people and in the year to the end of March turnover was over the €300m mark for the first time on the back of major infrastructure projects such as the Battersea Cable Tunnel in London for UK Power Networks. Retained earnings at the firm rose by almost £1m despite concerns about the UK economy. But 2019 was a sad one for the company. Dermot Clancy, younger brother of Mary and Kevin, sadly passed away in September. He and Kevin had stepped down from their roles as joint managing directors in 2009 but had remained on as joint chairmen of the company.
They had taken over running the business in 1984 on the death of their father Michael who had founded the company in Wembley in 1958 to carry out road and drainage works. The company had grown rapidly during the tenure of the two brothers, from €8m turnover to €280m by the time they handed over the reins. Mary Clancy, who retired from her role as executive director in 2004 but remains a major shareholder, was chairman of the Irish Youth Foundation in England for seven years, raising over £2m for disadvantaged young Irish people in England. In 2004, she was awarded Irish Tatler International Woman of the Year.
Google paid a reported $160m last month to acquire Pointy, which makes technology that connects the goods stocked in local shops to e-commerce sites. The largest beneficiaries were Mark Cummins and Charles Bibby, who set up the company in 2014. According to Cummins, he came up with the idea when he couldn’t track down a craft beer he tried at a party.
Owning just half of the company, they shared in more than $80m for their stake in the business, which is based on Amiens Street in North Dublin. It is not the first time Cummins cashed in — in 2010 he sold a separate startup, Plink, to Google. Cummins studied Engineering and Computer Science at Oxford, and then did a PhD in robotics and computer vision.