Thursday 22 March 2018

The Punt: Barings bank family dealing with new crisis

Nick Leeson. Photo: Andrew Downes
Nick Leeson. Photo: Andrew Downes

Nick Leeson may have brought down Barings, but not before the family behind the financial dynasty had salted away plenty of money.

The Baring family has owned historic Lambay Island off the east coast of Ireland since 1904. Since then, the land has been farmed by them, with Lambay's spectacular main residence renowned in architectural circles.

New filings at the Companies Office confirm only now that Alexander Rupert Baring (43), was appointed a director of Lambay Estate back in 2012. He's the seventh Baron Revelstoke, and last year he sought permission for a major upgrade at the island, including building renovations and improvements to infrastructure such as sewage treatment.

But the plans split the Baring family, with some members objecting on the basis that changes would be made to put the extinct volcano on a commercial footing and be done with a view to bringing paying guests to the hitherto very private island.

The local council asked for additional information last August about the plans for the island. Lambay Estate Company, which made the planning application, has six months from that date to supply the information. That deadline expires at the end of February, but nothing has yet been submitted.

One can only imagine the family diplomacy going on behind the scenes.

Morrisons finally delivers

Even adverts featuring light entertainment duo Ant & Dec couldn't provide a boost for Christmas trading at UK supermarket chain Morrisons. Wicklow-born chief executive Philip Dalton has had a difficult tenure at the company since his appointment in 2010. But realising that Britain's fourth-biggest grocery retailer was losing ground by not having an internet shopping capability, Mr Dalton signed a 25-year deal last May with Ocado, the online grocery business, that saw Morrisons at last able to deliver to its customers.

Indeed, the first delivery of Morrisons' wares under the Ocado tie-up happened less than two weeks ago.

But a black cloud was again hanging over the multiple after news emerged this week that the chain has suspended its treasurer and head of tax, Paul Coyle, who was arrested last month on suspicion of insider trading in advance of the Ocado partnership. He hasn't been charged with any offence as part of a probe being undertaken by police and the Financial Conduct Authority. A Scot, Mr Coyle studied at the University of Dundee and has worked with KPMG and RAC.

Leading light for UL Foundation

The University of Limerick Foundation has a new chair, the lovely Loretta Brennan Glucksman, widow of former Lehman Brothers' chief executive Lewis Glucksman.

Ireland should thank its lucky stars that the Glucksmans took a fancy to us.

They are leading lights in the rather sparse Irish philanthropic world and have provided funding to hundreds of projects and charities over the past few decades. Thanks to the Glucksmans, there's even an Ireland House at New York University. Ms Glucksman has just stepped down as chairwoman of the American Ireland Fund - a position she held for 15 years.

And while any links to Lehman Brothers tend to conjure up 'Wolf of Wall Street'-style ideas, we think capitalist-minded leadership will be great for the University of Limerick Foundation - particularly since some of Limerick city's public-run projects have gone so awry in recent months.

Irish Independent

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