Tuesday 21 November 2017

The Punt: Energy market is heating up

"Wolf of Wall Street" Jordan Belfort

Northern Ireland firm Budget Energy has been busy making in-roads into the electricity market there since it launched in 2011. Founded by Eleanor McEvoy, the pre-pay service has so far notched up over 55,000 customers.

The company has, on a number of occasions, said it intends to enter the electricity market in the Republic early in 2014 and it has recently established a company here.

The pre-pay electricity market in Ireland is already pretty active, with companies such as Pinergy and Prepay Power competing for customers. Prepay Power was founded by Andrew Collins, who made millions from the sale of insurance business 123.ie to RSA in 2010. His power company is backed by former Ryanair COO Michael Cawley.

Prepay Power has already nabbed the rights to a website called budgetenergy.ie (it also applied to trademark the name in Ireland). That website helpfully tells visitors to visit prepaypower.ie if they want to avail of its service.

But Ms McEvoy's Budget Energy complained to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) last year about Prepay Power having registered the budgetenergy.ie website. Prepay Power said it was "absurd" to suggest that it had done so simply to frustrate the Northern Ireland firm. WIPO agreed, rejecting Budget Energy NI's complaint.

We wonder what name it will plump for when it starts trading here.

Hurley moves to KBC Bank

There was some movement in Ireland's financial services sector over Easter. Rob Hurley, right, has hopped over to KBC Bank, Ireland, as head of consumer finance. He previously held a number of senior positions in the retail banking divisions of Rabobank and Danske Bank.

KBC said Rob will play an important part in the bank's retail expansion plans – bringing the full suite of consumer finance products to the Irish market.

KBC's current accounts and a debit card hit the Irish market last year, and it recently unveiled a credit card and the launch of personal loans. The new services are a step in the right direction for the bank, which reported a loss of €864m for last year.

It aims to be back in profit by 2016 after adding about 34,000 customers in the year on retail deposit growth to about €2.9bn.

The wolf is at our door

He made millions by ripping off investors, went to jail for his troubles, and now makes his living as a motivational speaker. And he is coming to Dublin.

Jordan Belfort – the self-styled 'Wolf of Wall Street' – will speak at the RDS next month.

According to the press release, "he will give attendees, over a three-hour period, the formula for success at creating wealth".

"In his twenties he was earning more than $50m dollars a year and whilst in venture capital raised over $1.5bn kick-starting multiple companies from scratch," it adds.

The event is being run by student website CollegeTimes.com, which is charging €50 a seat.

Belfort may be a big name thanks to being played by Leonardo DiCaprio in last year's film, but we can't remember being too interested in hearing a crook's "vision for entrepreneurial success" when we were in college.

Clearly, there is the whole question of whether or not someone with Belfort's record should be anywhere near our impressionable youth. After all, one might hear about his life and think crime really does pay.

Organiser Jamie White doesn't think anyone doubts "who and what the 'Wolf of Wall Street' is" and notes that the "anticipated audience... is everyone – all ages, all walks of life". He has been "inundated with requests for tickets and media interviews".

For The Punt though, it seems clear Belfort's moment is passing, if it hasn't passed already. We'll be hanging on to our €50.

Irish Independent

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