Wednesday 17 July 2019

TH€ PUNT: It's time for some payback, bankers tell tech start-ups

AS Europe's largest Web Summit in Dublin gets closer, it seems that money for tech firms in Europe is becoming harder to come by. Indeed, huffy bankers were out in force during the week, saying that previously funded tech start-ups had to start showing a bit of payback before they'd disburse any more funds.

"We need some good visible success stories," one banker said. "These companies need to perform well in the after-market and make money for the institutional investors who buy in the IPO."

This strikes The Punt as being entirely sensible. At the moment, there is a raft of high-profile, non-profit-making tech firms (Twitter comes to mind) that are so well-funded based on future promise that they resist the natural path to flotation.

Founder of tech start-up Evernote Phil Libin told the 'Sunday Independent': "People used to look forward to IPOs in this industry because it was great for making money. But that's not true any more. You really don't need to be public to have liquidity. So the short-term reasons for IPOs have been eliminated."

Eliminated for the start-up's staff, yes. But what about the folks who pump €10m, €20m or, in Twitter's case, €150m into the company?

If a return is forever on the never-never, you can understand the bankers' concerns.


Brits home in on our property

THE Punt was intrigued to see British newspapers wondering aloud this week if a slight economic boost in Ireland meant now could be a good time to risk an investment in property here.

Readers of 'The Times' in London were told that Ireland suffered a well-publicised property crash.

"Is it time to reconsider the country's potential as a place in which to buy?" readers were asked.

Marian Finnegan chief economist at agency Sherry FitzGerald, was quoted as saying that the property market was enjoying "relative stability".

She says that it is a market finding its feet again, with strength returning to Dublin and surrounding areas, specifically Kildare, Wicklow and Meath.

The British were told that in some parts of south Dublin, agents are seeing annual growth of between 10pc and 12pc.

This comes after Central Statistics Office figures showing a 2.3pc rise nationally in prices in June.

And after Economic and Social Research Institute economist Dr David Duffy predicted rises of up to 7pc in national property prices this year, and up to 10pc in Dublin.

If British buyers decide that property is good value here, then we really could see the market overheating. It is enough to give The Punt sleepless nights about a new price bubble, particularly in Dublin.


Top Three give big day a miss

IT is traditionally a red-letter day for central bankers around the globe, but this year the annual gathering at Jackson Hole in Wyoming in the US will be a little lower-key than usual.

The annual gathering has seen some of the key moments of the financial crisis. It was there that US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, then Bank of England Governor Mervyn King and European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet hammered out a policy of cutting interest rates and flooding the world economy with cash to try to prevent markets from seizing up, for example.

It is one of the most closely watched events by international markets, with some careless comment potentially having a huge effect on world indices.

Not this year, though. None of the big three will be in attendance. Mr Bernanke, new Bank of England chief Mark Carney and ECB boss Mario Draghi (all pictured) are all sending deputies in their place.

That's probably a good thing. As the economic data shows things beginning to improve, central bankers' interests will begin to diverge.

What is good for the eurozone may not be good for the US and vice versa. On balance, it is probably right the top dogs aren't in Wyoming this year.

Irish Independent

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