Wednesday 13 December 2017

The Punt: $40m will buy a lot of crackers this Christmas

Kelly Martin, President and CEO of Elan
Kelly Martin, President and CEO of Elan

$40m will buy a lot of crackers this Christmas

SO the sun has finally set on Elan. With its shares now delisted from the Irish Stock Exchange following the completion of the deal by Perrigo to buy the company for about $8.6bn (€6.2bn), the country has lost what had been, despite all the difficulties it encountered, the best indigenous pharmaceutical business to date.

Many of its financial problems in the last decade were self-made, as too were other issues, such as illegally promoting an epilepsy drug it owned for use in treating bi-polar disorders, weight loss and seizures in children.

Three years ago, it paid €153m in criminal and civil penalties to resolve the case.

But it persevered with multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, which despite many difficulties went on to become a blockbuster, with annual sales of over $1.6bn.

Elan sold its 50pc stake in the drug earlier this year for $3.2bn and Perrigo will continue to receive a generous royalty from sales.

But of course one of the biggest winners has been Elan boss Kelly Martin. The former Merrill Lynch exec will walk away from the deal significantly richer thanks to stock options that were automatically exercisable upon the Perrigo acquisition, as well as other compensation he's due because of losing his office.

In fact, he's likely to reap more than $40m from the takeover. That should pay for a decent box of Christmas crackers.

Farewell and Godspeed, Ajai

THANKS, we think! The IMF's Ajai Chopra is set to leave the organisation, and has said his stint working with Ireland has been a "capstone" of his three-decades long career there.

There's a sting in the tail, however. He now plans to dedicate at least some of his time doing voluntary work, specifically working to educate those who struggle keeping up with their finances.

"The manipulation of borrowers leading up to the crisis demonstrates the need for improving such literacy," he said.

Oh dear, we hope he's not inspired by anyone -- or any country -- in particular.

The news is contained in an interview published by the IMF to mark its final review of Ireland.

"This experience, together with other stimulating work I've done over the years at the IMF, motivates me to stay engaged in economic policy analysis and advocacy, but in a different setting here in Washington.

"I am also interested in doing volunteer work on financial literacy with low-income families and students," he said.

Right, so it is us. Hardly unfair either. The Punt is fairly certain Mr Chopra met more than his share of financial illiterates during his years overseeing Ireland's administrative and financial institutions.

Still, it's an interesting, indeed worthy, move that demonstrates the profound impact the crisis has had even on those who might have been perceived as being the cheerleaders for austerity.

IDA's Ryan owes it all to Quinn

IT appears former Enterprise Ireland chief, and now chairman designate of the IDA, Frank Ryan owes all his success to supermarket giant and now senator Feargal Quinn.

Mr Quinn gave Mr Ryan his first job -- as a box boy in the local supermarket in Dundalk -- where he earned the grand sum of one pound and 10 shillings.

Mr Ryan expressed his thanks to the senator, claiming he learnt a lot from his style of management, even as a child entrusted with the responsibility of carrying boxes out to shoppers' cars.

Mr Quinn only had one thing on his mind, though.

"I hope you weren't overpaid," he quipped, during a sitting of the Oireachtas Jobs Committee.

Mr Ryan, fresh from his role in Enterprise Ireland, said the IDA needed to sharpen its focus and evolve to meet the new needs of clients.

But after being questioned about whether an insider should be at the helm of the semi-state company, he shot back: "It has never stopped me from asking the hard questions."

Mr Ryan has been fairly praised for his role at the helm of EI. The Punt hopes he has continued success at the IDA.

Irish Independent

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