Friday 15 December 2017

TH€ PUNT: Sometimes less is more, Joan

FIRST a confession: The Punt tends to be quite cynical when it comes to politicians. To hear some of them blather on at Oireachtas Committees for hours on end is enough to defeat anyone.

Usually, though, when they attend actual press conferences, they tend to at least make a token effort to answer questions or make a reasonably effective statement.

Joan Burton does make that token effort, but only after getting a fierce wedge of nonsense out first.

Consider her response to a suggestion that April's European Court ruling that the State must pick up the tab for pension schemes when a company goes bust may encourage companies with a broken scheme to put themselves out of business:

"Well the Waterford Glass [sic] case is a landmark judgment and the workers and applicants won their case fairly comprehensively in terms of the judgment handed down by the European Court.

"It has now gone back to Irish court. My department and myself have received very detailed advice and met the Attorney General.

"I hope that it's possible that it will proceed through the Irish courts without any undue delay, I think that would be helpful to all involved.

"I can't as such comment on this case but we are watching all of the development extremely closely and taking into account any of the implications that it may have for pensions in Ireland," Ms Burton added.

A tip for the minister: fewer words make for a better soundbite in the next day's papers.

Snooze, you lose at Elan EGM

"NO, no, please", cried one desperate shareholder at the Elan EGM yesterday, as he fiddled with the BlackBerry-style voting pad in front of him, displaying a slightly bemused expression.

Shareholders were voting on four resolutions put forward by bosses of the drug company, and they weren't getting much time to mess around.

With the meeting lasting about eight, maybe nine minutes in total, it was brutally efficient. You snooze, you lose.

One other shareholder tried to put a question about the share repurchase resolution (which shareholders subsequently agreed) claiming it was a referendum on the Royalty Pharma proposal.

With those at the top table quickly scanning each other for approval, that was promptly shot down, and the shareholder had to retreat with his tail between his legs.

The Punt wonders if management had a bet between themselves as to how quickly they could start and wind up the EGM, given the background.

Key hiring for United Drug

IRISH pharmaceutical services company United Drug has appointed a new board member.

American Lisa Ricciardia, who has an MBA from the University of Chicago, joins as a non-executive director of the Irish company whose interests range from drug distribution to marketing and packaging.

A veteran of the pharmaceuticals industry, she is the newest addition to a board that boasts some impressive names.

These include Smurfit Kappa chief executive Gary McGann, former Kerry Group chief executive Hugh Friel, as well as Chris Brinsmead, the former Astra Zeneca chairman and president of The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

Ms Ricciardi's appointment is particularly welcome given that United Drug's board members are currently all men. Her experience is impressive, including a 19-year stint with Pfizer in licensing and development and, most recently, a two-year position in business development at Medco Health Solutions.

According to Ms Ricciardia she increased new leads at Prizer by 50pc and completed 25-plus deals with an estimated value of $300m to $7bn at the company, as well as being hand-picked to launch major arthritis drug Tenidap.

She will join United Drug's risk, acquisitions and finance committee, which makes sense given that she was also previously a venture partner with New York private equity company Essex Woodlands.

Ms Ricciardia's American citizenship makes her an even more attractive addition to United Drug. The US became the company's largest profit-contributing region in the first half of this year.

Irish Independent

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