Friday 15 December 2017

The Punt: Giro d'Italia to make record year for North's tourism even more colourful

Rory McIlroy during the Irish Open Golf Championship at Royal Portrush.
Rory McIlroy during the Irish Open Golf Championship at Royal Portrush.

THE activities of republican throwbacks and loyalist flag-waving fools are all the more dismaying because of the successes of local tourism in the North.

Three records have already been set -- the biggest attendance for a golf tournament (Irish Open at Portrush, pictured above); the biggest crowd at a fleadh cheoil (Derry); and the biggest participation in a Police and Fire Games (Belfast).

The Giro d'Italia does a northern circuit next year and the Punt had a look at the Northern Ireland Tourism Board's display for buyers from the Republic last week, where chairman Howard Hastings joked that perhaps they would break the record for pink lycra on the normally staid Causeway Coast.

The Titanic project will be delighted by the selection of the SS Nomadic by Tripadvisor.com as the top tourism destination in Belfast. The lavishly restored ship has been overshadowed, literally and figuratively, by the nearby Titanic building. But it is only a building, while Nomadic is the last White Star Line vessel in existence. What a pity a few wreckers are still plying their evil trade.

O'Buachalla off to Green REIT

Green REIT has tapped ex-Treasury Holdings man Niall O'Buachalla to be its new chief operating officer in the latest sign that experienced property managers are now very much back in demand.

Green REIT beat rivals to become the first of what is likely to be an entire class of stock market-listed property companies earlier this year.

First mover advantage means it has a shot at attracting the pick of experienced commercial property executives.

As COO, Mr O'Buachalla will manage financial, regulatory and risk functions for Green REIT, as well as co-ordinate transactions and debt structuring. He will take up the new job in January.

Mr O'Buachalla has been finance director at Burlington Real Estate since the high-profile liquidation of Treasury Holdings, which had been the major component of Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett's globe-spanning property empire.

Mr O'Buachalla co-founded Burlington with fellow Treasury Holdings veteran John Bruder and Niall Kavanagh.

Boucher keeps side of bargain

A loss-making bank backed by Wilbur Ross has parted ways with its chief executive. Don't worry Mr Boucher, the bank is in the US.

New Jersey-based Sun Bancorp Inc has parted from Thomas X Geisel, its former president and chief executive officer as the company struggled to end losses.

Specialist executive recruitment firm Spencer Stuart has been lined up to identify a replacement.

"Having new leadership will allow us to focus and execute on the core objectives of regulatory excellence, growth and sustained shareholder returns," Wilbur Ross, a member of the bank's board, said in a statement

It's a pithy summation of what the Punt reckons are his priorities for every bank where he holds a stake.

The US bank hasn't posted an annual profit since 2008, much like its Irish cousin, Bank of Ireland, where Wilbur Ross is also a shareholder-director.

The big difference is that shares in Sun Bancorp have lost three-quarters of their value since the end of 2007, and are down 5.4pc this year.

On this side of the Atlantic, Mr Ross (below) is doing a lot better. Bank of Ireland shares have more than doubled since he bought into the bank in 2011. This year the Irish lender has been the standout performer among listed European bank stocks, bolstering chief executive Richie Boucher's reputation with investors as a man who can handle a crisis.

Irish Independent

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