Thursday 17 October 2019

Samantha McCaughren: Noonan presses Ireland's Fintech credentials to Stripe

Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison Photo: Dai-Lon Weiss
Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison Photo: Dai-Lon Weiss
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

It's not every day you meet Ireland's two youngest billionaires. However, the Department of Finance was left scrambling through Minister Michael Noonan's diary when he was reminded of a meeting with fellow Limerick men Patrick and John Collison on a trip last year to San Francisco.

According to records released under Freedom of Information, officials concluded that the former finance minister could have had a chance meeting with the pair. "It is possible that you might have met them at a networking event," Noonan was advised in some briefing notes ahead of a meeting with Michael Cocoman, international regulatory lead with the Collisons' payments company Stripe. The Fintech firm, which is now valued at over $9bn (€7.9bn), has an Irish office in Grand Canal Street, the heart of the city's Silicon Docks. As Dublin strives to become a player in the hot Fintech sector, Cocoman's request for a meeting to "discuss our plans for Ireland", was unmissable (despite Noonan's lapse in memory).

A scene from Game of Thrones, which returns to Sky Atlantic next month
A scene from Game of Thrones, which returns to Sky Atlantic next month

Officials briefed Noonan that the meeting could "provide an opportunity to outline Ireland's many strengths and competitive advantages as an FDI location."

No word yet as to whether or not Stripe would like to expand its presence in Dublin, although an additional document was not released as it could "prejudice the outcome of negotiations". Make of that what you will.

Watt’s the story in National Economic Dialogue row

Top mandarin Robert Watt raised eyebrows this week after a very public row with Social Justice Ireland director Fr Sean Healy.

The two locked horns at the National Economic Dialogue in Dublin Castle, with Watt asking Healy to provide data to back up his criticisms of the state of the nation.

Watt — secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform — is seen as something of a maverick in the world of civil servants. He previously worked in the private sector at consultants Indecon. In that capacity, he wrote an article for the Sunday Business Post that he probably wishes he could take back, arguing against an “alarmist” view on the Irish economy just a year before the crash.

“Overall prospects remain okay... we can attain reasonable growth if our international competitiveness can be sustained and enhanced.”

Alas, it didn’t quite work out like that.

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Irish designer Jonathan Anderson, who is also known by the name of his fashion label JW Anderson, continues to see his creative influence expand in the world of retail.

Anderson, son of the former Ireland rugby captain Willie Anderson, announced earlier this year that he would do a range for hip Japanese fashion chain Uniqlo and he has just unveiled a collaboration with Converse footwear.

According to industry site Business of Fashion, Anderson recently showcased his spring 2018 menswear collection in Florence, Italy. He told the publication that it was a part of his plan to reach more people through brands which have much bigger distribution and retail networks.

Anderson, who is based in London, started his business in 2008 and the luxury group LVMH took a stake in 2013, while Anderson was appointed creative director of LVMH’s Spanish fashion company Loewe. He said his own label has “quadrupled” in the last few years.

No doubt Converse is hoping that even a fraction of this success rubs off.

Germans howl at McKillen Jr over Mount Street hotel plan

Who would have thought there would be such strong objections to the Howl at the Moon late-night venue becoming a hotel?

A company associated with Oakmount, the development company headed by Paddy McKillen Jnr and Matt Ryan, was recently granted permission to demolish the nightclub on Lower Mount Street, Dublin and build a 53-room hotel. However, the Germans are very, very unhappy with the plan. A letter from Matthias Hopfner, the German Ambassador, on behalf of the German Government, stated that construction for a mews development on Merrion Square to facilitate the Goethe Institute, the German Cultural Institute in Ireland, was well under way. He wrote that the hotel would “directly and negatively” impact on the development. The Germans have launched a full offensive against the plan with An Bord Pleanala in recent days.

Sensitive to new developments as they are, one wonders what the Germans will make of building plans for much of RTE’s Dublin 4 site? The German ambassador’s residence is one of the Montrose site’s closest neighbours and the diplomats are unlikely to be enamoured with Cairn Homes’ desire to build hundreds of homes on the land.

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Sky is naturally very excited about the return of Game of Thrones to our screens next month, as are hundreds of thousands of fans of the fantasy series across the country.

It has linked up with food-delivery company to promote its new service, Now TV, with the return of Game of Thrones central to the campaign.

Just Eat customers who place an order on the Just Eat app or online will receive a free Now TV Entertainment Month Pass.

The online streaming service allows users watch live pay TV and on-demand shows and box sets, as well as the new movies and exclusive live sports, all without a contract.

The one-month entertainment pass will give Just Eat customers access to new TV shows such as Billions, Riviera and Ballers.

And the top draw is Game of Thrones, which returns to Sky Atlantic on July 17.

The campaign’s catch phrase? “Dinner is coming.” One for the fans.

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