Sunday 25 February 2018

TH€ PUNT: Self-driven Rabbitte decides to park the chauffeur

Pat Rabbitte: swapped his usual passenger seat for the driver’s wheel
Pat Rabbitte: swapped his usual passenger seat for the driver’s wheel

THE Punt was stunned. It was a most unusual sight: a minister driving his own car.

Fresh from a meeting in south Dublin with the outgoing chief of UK energy giant SSE, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte got into a silver Audi, his press adviser ensonced in the passenger seat, and off he drove.

The Government may argue they've been at this for some time now, and readers may question why we're making a fuss. Sure aren't they just highly paid public servants?

Very true, but remember the images in 2010 of ministers in the previous Fianna Fail/Green Party coalition arriving at Farmleigh in their largely luxury German-made chauffeur-driven cars, ready to get down to talks on where to wield the budgetary knife?

That didn't go down well with a recession-weary public.

Changed times it seems on some fronts.

Then again, the Luas was just around the corner.

Billionaire Ikea founder (87) retires to frugal life in bungalow

Sometimes controversial and an icon for entrepreneurs around the world, Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad (87) is leaving the retail giant's board after setting up the company in Sweden in 1943.

He began plying his trade by selling matches to neighbours before setting up Ikea, which grew to become a global behemoth and making Switzerland-domiciled Kampard a billionaire.

The Dublin store has helped in that regard – although its sales have fallen since the downturn, it has remained among the group's busiest in Europe.

Kampard's son, Mathias, is succeeding Per Ludvigsson as chairman on the main group firm – Inter Ikea – and all this is part of what the retailer says is a "generational shift" that has been in the pipeline for a number of years.

Kampard said his son is "well prepared" for the new endeavour. But far from planning to relax on a day bed, Ingvar Kampard intends to keep working – an inspiration, perhaps, to a whole new generation across Europe who are going to find themselves working later in life as governments increasingly struggle to fund national pensions. "I will continue to share ideas and views. And I will continue to spend time in the stores and in the factories to work with people and help achieve constant improvement."

Known for his frugal life, Kampard lives in a bungalow, but trappings of wealth still exist – a vineyard in France and an estate in Sweden.

If the cap fits – even financial regulators like to have an old bop

The PUNT prides itself on staying on top of pop culture but we didn't expect two of the country's best known financial figures to do the same. Revellers at Dublin's Forbidden Fruit music festival on the Bank Holiday Sunday came prepared for headline act Primal Scream and techno DJ Daphni, but the appearance of exiting financial regulator Matthew Elderfield and economic pundit David McWilliams came as quite the surprise.

The two were spotted separately, both busting a move to disco band Chic on the sunny slopes in front of the festival's main stage. Reports are unclear as to whether they opted for the popular face paint designs that many concert-goers sported.

After five years at the Central Bank, Mr Elderfield has stepped back from active duty while he waits out his notice period. He must be enjoying finally having some time off to enjoy the best Ireland has to offer before leaving for UK shores in October, when he will take up a well-publicised job at Lloyd's.

We didn't expect music festivals to be the 47-year-old's activity of choice but he proves appearances are deceiving – and he's obviously a serious music fan as he attended the festival last year as well.

David McWilliams' presence at the concert, held in the grounds of the former Kilmainham Hospital, makes a little more sense. After all he markets himself as a bit of a zeitgeist commentator and a champion of the young.

The Punt has to wonder who is next. Fiona Muldoon at Electric Picnic? Michael Noonan at Oxygen? We'll be watching.

Credit union restructuring chief will oversee multiple mergers

NOT many people know who Donal Coghlan is, but chances are his name will become familiar in the coming months.

Next Wednesday, Mr Coghlan takes up the role as chief executive of a newly created body, with the devilishly tricky task of overseeing multiple mergers among our almost 400 credit unions.

Some 100 to 150 credit unions may end up being folded into larger ones, in a process that is a tacit admission that the current model for the movement is broken.

He will need to hit the ground running if he is to have any chance of success in his new role, as chief executive of ReBo, the Credit Union Restructuring Board.

This is a State-appointed body that has resulted from last year's Commission on Credit Unions.

Credit unions are notoriously defensive, and fiercely independent, as Central Bank is finding out at present in its less than successful efforts to get credit unions to write off the debts of householders who are over-borrowed.

Standing to him is the fact that Mr Coghlan has been the manager of one of the biggest credit union in the state, the St Patrick's (ESB) one.

An accountant by profession, he can count on a difficult few months ahead.

Irish Independent

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