"To have been blessed with success in business was exciting, but to be able to use those skills to help make a real difference in the lives of so many is fulfilling and purposeful." So says Texan-based entrepreneur and philanthropist Philip Berber, who sold his share-trading firm CyberCorp to Charles Schwab for a sweet $488m in 2000. The Dubliner - who co-founded the charity 'A Glimmer of Hope' with his wife Donna to reduce extreme poverty in rural Ethiopia, as well as helping charities in Austin, Texas - is counting his blessings now that their children have flown the nest.
Berber is selling his stunning lakeside holiday home in Austin, where the couple also have a main home, for €12.9m.
The four-bed, seven-bathroom home is on sale in several lots because it sits on 36 acres of land. It comes with basketball and tennis courts, equestrian facilities, a boat dock, walking trails, fountains, ponds, streams, a pool and spa.
"It's full of wonderful memories for us, particularly from when our children were younger," says Berber who has been listed, along with his wife Donna on Barron's 25 'best givers' list. Berber's charity, engaged in microfinance and water provision in Ethiopia, boasts a 98pc repayment rate on its micro-finance loans - an outstanding return that any business, let alone a charity, would want on its books.
Over at FBD, chief executive Fiona Muldoon remains in her post after an independent investigation found internal allegations made against her were not upheld.
In a sign that corporate life goes on, Muldoon has just been given a conditional award of a maximum of 33,256 FBD shares, worth more than €350,000 based on trading last Friday.
She won’t get the shares unless the conditions of the company’s performance share plan are satisfied.
That’s a scheme that is designed to provide a financial incentive for a strong company performance.
FBD has not specified what the nature of the allegations made against Muldoon were, and why they were not upheld.
It remains to be seen whether shareholders are satisfied with that state of affairs.
The ultra-competitive forecourt market could soon see a whole new round of fancy renovations. The Tedcastle Group, which owns Top Oil — one of the largest Irish fuel sellers — was bought from the Reihill family by Canada’s Irving Oil.
Irving already owns the Whitegate refinery in Cork and this, along with Top’s fuel import facilities in Dublin Port, gives it a strong position that no doubt will be examined by competition authorities.
But with electric vehicles a slow-moving but unstoppable reality for the sector, the real appetiser in this for Irving is most likely to try its hand in Ireland’s highly-developed forecourt food service sector. The Reihill family — who were advised on the sale by corporate law firm LK Shields — previously struck lucrative deals for Top to supply fuel at some of the largest motorway service stations.
Yet, in general, many of Top’s network of more than 200 garages have not had the same fancy makeover as competitors.
But don’t be surprised to see Top’s new Canadian owner bring plans and partnerships to a Top garage near you.
Dublin-based UrbanVolt has become the first Irish firm to join an eclectic international club of companies that includes everything from Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream, to Danone, to outdoor clothing company Patagonia.
The innovative energy services company, established in 2015, has been accorded the international B Corp status, which denotes that a firm has met rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, governance, accountability and transparency. About 2,600 companies in 60 countries and more than 150 industries have reached the standard but this is a first for an Irish company. Edel Kennedy, head of marketing at UrbanVolt, said the company had been inspired by Patagonia’s desire to use the power of business to fundamentally change the world for the better: “Businesses have to make money to survive, that’s a given. But that’s not enough anymore. You have to use the power of business to do good and influence positive change in the world, especially when it comes to the environment,” she said.
The term ‘contactless payments’ took on a new meaning for me last week. That’s when I found myself stranded in the foyer of an upmarket Dublin hotel one morning with no payment method at all for the posh tea and designer sparkling water I had ordered in advance of a planned tete-a-tete with a business contact.
Having left my purse (with cash, cards, ID and business cards at home) at home, a frantic 15 minutes ensued as I tried to work out how I would pay for my elevenses.
The twin sister/personal bank manager was abroad and I was neither close enough to work or home to drum up financial support for my plight, whilst a mortifying call to the hotel’s GM went unanswered.
Luckily for me, I wasn’t entirely contactless, as a kind chief executive came to my aid. So thank you Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, CEO of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation — and new first-time dad — for sparing my blushes and spotting me €20.
It was a happy ending, but contactless payments can’t come quick enough.
For decades there was no significant change to the tax system of the United States. Then, last December, the Congress passed a comprehensive and wide-reaching package, pushed by the most polarising president in living memory. The law - known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) - radically overhauled the US tax system. The mammoth TCJA has had corporate executives, accountants and economists wondering about its implications, both in the US and further afield.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for averting the course of climate change - I'm not good in extreme weather. Al Gore put it well "We have a scales that balances two different things. On one side, we have gold bars. On the other side, the entire planet. That's a false choice for two reasons: number one, if we don't have a planet... "
Media & Marketing
The Pew Research Centre is a non-profit organisation based in Washington DC that researches politics, the media, technology and a host of other social and economic trends. Every year since 2004 it has issued an annual assessment of the state of the news media in the US. This year's edition is hot off the presses, so what does it tell us about the state of the news media in the States, and if possible, beyond?
Large organisations have clearly-defined corporate structures that remove ambiguity in roles and responsibilities. Regardless of the sector that they're in, commercial organisations have a common denominator; they need to sell their products or services to achieve sales targets. Consequently, every one of them has a defined sales function.
In The Workplace
'What's your name," I asked the young man sitting across the table from me as he removed polish from my fingernails. "Duc," came his reply. "It's Vietnamese. 'D-U-C'." (Pronounced very much like 'Duke'.) Duc and his brother Michael Nguyen manage Tiffany Nails in Blackrock Village outside Dublin. Born in Hanoi, they moved to Ireland 21 years ago.