Saturday 16 December 2017

The Punt: Ellison spends on hoop dream

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison

The Irish division of US technology giant Oracle employs 1,100 staff here, brought in revenues of €7.24bn last year and profits of €164.4m.

But its corporation tax bill was just €11m, this newspaper revealed last week, reigniting the debate over the discrepancy between the turnover at some of the biggest companies operating here and their relatively small tax bills. Still, no one can accuse Oracle's chief executive Larry Ellison, a regular visitor to Ireland, of being cheap.

Mr Ellison is something of a sports nut – and with a personal fortune estimated at $41bn, he can afford to indulge his pastime. His top sporting accomplishment thus far came in the form of last year's America's Cup, the fabled sailing race beloved of upper-class yachties around the world, which his team won.

But he's also fond of shooting a few hoops, and has managed to combine the two sports in a rather fantastic manner. Ellison, who routinely ditched schoolwork for practice growing up in Chicago, has reportedly installed basketball courts on at least two of his yachts. But his jump shot isn't quite accurate – and so he has enlisted a powerboat to follow in his wake, retrieving the balls that go overboard. You couldn't write this stuff.

Brady joins Icon board

A DISTINGUISHED physician and academic, known to many recent UCD graduates, has joined the board of south Dublin-based clinical trials company Icon.

Hugh Brady will be a non-executive at the global firm which provides services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.

A nephrologist by training (the study of the kidney), Brady was a professor at UCD before being appointed the university's president where he served for nine years until 2013.

He carved out a successful career as a physician and biomedical research scientist in the US, where he spent nine years at Harvard.

"I am very pleased that Dr Brady has joined the board," said Icon chairman Thomas Lynch. "His inspirational leadership of UCD, Ireland's largest university, during the past 10 years, extensive international experience, especially in Asia, coupled with a distinguished career as an academic clinician in Ireland and the US will bring invaluable experience and expertise to Icon."

This is not Brady's first corporate gig; he is also a non-executive director of Kerry Group. Other leadership roles included being chairman of the Irish Health Research Board and the Universitas 21 Network of global research universities.

Cityjet gets off to a flyer

Dublin-based Cityjet, which is headed by Christine Ourmieres, has a new lease of life under its new owners – Germany's Intro Aviation.

A unit of the Intro Group, which was founded by Hans Rudolf Woehrl, the company has a decent track record of turning around struggling airlines. But Herr Woehrl is under no illusion that Cityjet's survival is no sure thing. At a press conference on Thursday he conceded that, as with buying any airline, acquiring Cityjet is a risk that may or may not pay off. A keen private flier, the CEO said there is no great strategy for turning around loss-making Cityjet, which was sold by Air France-KLM. Still, he expects it to be profitable again by next year.

Mr Woehrl also quipped that one thing that made him more confident about buying an Irish business was the fact that the press had turned out in force for the 8.30am briefing at the fancy Marker Hotel in Dublin. "In Germany it would be impossible to have everybody at 8.30 in the morning coming to a press conference. We really find here motivated people."

Irish Independent

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