Friday 18 October 2019

San Leon Energy faces another existential threat

San Leon Energy boss Oisin Fanning. Photo: Photo Ger Foy/ Collins
San Leon Energy boss Oisin Fanning. Photo: Photo Ger Foy/ Collins
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

More twists and turns over at San Leon Energy, the oil and gas explorer run by former Smart Telecom boss Oisin Fanning.

After seeing off an attempt to have the company wound up a few months back, Fanning is now fighting another wind-up petition.

This one comes from SunTrust Oil, a Nigerian company which claims it is owned money by San Leon. The row relates to the Irish company's acquisition of an indirect interest in a producing oil field in Nigeria.

A report in the Nigerian media said that SunTrust alleges San Leon owes it almost $50m. It has gone to court in Nigeria and been granted permission to advertise the winding-up petition here, and serve the relevant documents on San Leon's Irish office.

San Leon acknowledged the report in a statement to market, but said it "believes the claim has no foundation" on foot of legal advice. It's looking to have the claim struck out.

Fanning has been through some rough times in business before. He was a founder of collapsed stockbroking firm MMI Stockbrokers, and chief executive from 1993 before stepping down in 1998, the year the company got into serious difficulty. But he's kept San Leon afloat through very turbulent times, and that experience will help as he seeks to overcome the latest challenge.

Aer Lingus to move on from Boeing 757 pathfinders

Change continues to be the watchword at Aer Lingus, with news coming to us that the airline has decided to end its partnership with ASL Airlines, a Dublin-based airline.

In recent years, ASL has supplied three Boeing 757 aircraft as part of a lease agreement to Aer Lingus. The deal pre-dated the arrival of IAG as the owner of the former national carrier and was part of an initially very cautious "dipping a toe into the water" approach to a number of transatlantic routes. Rather than deploying the larger Aer Lingus-owned A330 aircraft on to a new route immediately, the airline would first announce a limited schedule using ASL's 757s. If the route worked then it would later expand with more flights and bigger aircraft.

But with a whole new fleet of brand new IAG-financed super-efficient Airbus A321LR aircraft starting to arrive next year, Aer Lingus seems to have decided to back its Airbus fleet from the get-go.

Staying with airlines, Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs was talking again this week about his airline’s ambition to become the ‘Amazon of travel’. It’s a crucial year ahead on many fronts for Ryanair and Jacobs will know successful execution of this ambition is becoming ever more important. Ryanair’s ‘Amazon’ plan is all about using digital technology to generate the ancillary revenues that — in a cut-throat competitive market — are increasingly the difference between a good year and a bad year for the airline. 

After a series of profit warnings, Ryanair, helmed by Michael O’Leary, reinvented itself in recent years. Much of that reinvention involved coming up with ways that it could convince passengers to pay it extra cash for holidays, car hire and hotels, while easing off on the less appealing side of its ancillary revenue generation, such as baggage charges.

The so-called ‘Amazon of travel’ plan was born. If it doesn’t work, well, with fuel costs set to rise, Brexit threatening and unions agitating, things could soon get very interesting indeed.

Techies to do battle in Dublin city charity treasure hunt

Irish techies will do battle next week in a fun event where only the most competitive will succeed.

The Techies4TempleStreet charity event will see participants trek across Dublin city centre seeking buried treasure, completing different challenges and puzzles along the way.

AIB has teamed up with the organisers to lead the event - which starts in the Aviva stadium - and the winners will be dubbed 'Ireland's Smartest Techies'.

Luckily, you don't actually need to be a techie to participate - so any Luddites who fancy a crack at the title won't be excluded.

Head of LinkedIn Ireland Sharon McCooey is also hooked in and said the event is a good way of bringing a team together.

The event has raised €600,000 for the Temple Street Children's University Hospital since 2015. Tech consultancy BearingPoint won last year and will doubtless seek to retain the bragging rights. Ergo wishes the best of luck to all participants.

Usually these days when Minister Denis Naughten is meeting Enet boss David McCourt there is plenty of space in the room. McCourt, you see, is the last man standing for the National Broadband Plan, which could yet come to define the rural-based minister’s political career.

Eir and Siro are long gone from the process. But when McCourt was launching his new book, Total Rethink, in the Merrion Hotel last week it was standing room only and Naughten had to push his way in from the back to catch a glimpse of the American. 

McCourt was speaking to broadcaster Pat Kenny about his early career and repeated a story he had told in an interview with last week’s Sunday Independent about a Boston client who refused to pay for cable laid by his company. McCourt had a simple solution: he started digging up the cable. The client quickly paid. 

Now, it may have been Ergo’s imagination, but, as the rest of the room laughed at the ruthless approach, Minister Naughten’s shoulders seemed to stiffen just a touch.

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