Sunday 17 December 2017

The Punt - Battle over bananas is better for hacks

Fyffes executive chairman David McCann
Fyffes executive chairman David McCann

Corporate merger and takeover battles are always good fun. In recent years, Ryanair's efforts to buy Aer Lingus have made for plenty of copy, and it's only a year since Irish drug firm Elan became the subject of a tug-of-war between two US firms, Perrigo and Royalty Pharma.

Perrigo and Royalty fought for control of Elan, with the former ultimately succeeding in its €6.3bn takeover of the Irish firm.

And now it's the turn of Fyffes, which is caught up in a love triangle with Chiquita and Brazilian outfit Cutrale-Safra.

Cutrale-Safra hasn't been shy at letting fly at what it sees as the negatives demerits of the planned Fyffes-Chiquita merger.

For Fyffes executive chairman David McCann, there's a lot at stake. He would be CEO of the combined Chiquita-Fyffes group, while he and his family would also be significant shareholders in what would be the world's largest banana distributor.

Mr McCann doesn't like being under the public microscope.

Should the merger with Chiquita be pulled from under his feet at the last minute, it'll be even less likely that he'll be doing interviews with the press any time soon.

Search is on for economists

The Government is on the hunt for graduate economists. The new recruits will be assigned to the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service, which was set up in 2012 and charged with enhancing the role of economics, evaluation and value for money analysis in public policy making.

The section has published a number of academic papers, including the Contribution of the 'biosector' to Ireland's Net Foreign Earnings, and the impact of the pharmaceutical patent cliff in Ireland.

The Service says it offers a host of opportunities in areas such as macroeconomic forecasting, expenditure analysis, public policy impact analysis, fiscal policy and climate change economics.

The new unit was formed by restructuring the State's previous economic resources into a 'new inter-departmental network', with shared training and support structures.

"This is an opportunity for high calibre graduates in economics to play a crucial role in contributing to policy and strategy formulation across a number of Government departments," the recruitment ad states.

At the height of the crisis the Government came under some criticism for a lack of highly qualified economists within the ranks of the civil service.

Ulster Bank's city makeover

Ulster Bank has submitted additional information to Dublin City Council for plans to convert part of 2-4 O'Connell Street from financial use to retail use. Ulster Bank has about 23 years of a lease left to run on the premises, which was put up for sale in May this year for more than €10m.

Interestingly, the premises was being sold by UK financial services firm Legal & General. But the planning application made at the end of May for the building notes that the owners are Marian Cave, Patricia Armstrong and Phyllis McDowell, all with an address at Ballyalton House in Newtownards.

Marian Cave and her husband Leonard run an architectural salvage business from Ballyalton House, while the Cave family are also keenly involved in equine pursuits. Their reclamation business has been on the go for over 15 years.

During the summer, they hosted a charity show jumping day in conjunction with the Capall Riding Club at Ballyalton House.

At any rate, the Dublin City Council planner wasn't happy with the initial plans drafted by Ulster Bank.

The planner said the council was "seriously concerned in relation to the lack of information in relation to the type of retail unit proposed at the basement and ground floor level".

Ulster Bank has also applied to the local council for permission to change the use of part of the ground floor at its George's Quay HQ from banking to office use and to "close off and block up" the existing retail entrance door.

You ain't seen me, right?

Irish Independent

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