Thursday 22 February 2018

The Punt: Heffernan kicks off brain drain at Bord Gais

Christine Heffernan
Christine Heffernan
Lars Frisell

THE brain drain has begun at Bord Gais following the collapse of the government's plans to sell off the utility.

Among the first to go is the talented Christine Heffernan who is leaving the company in March to look after Tesco's communications.

With an MBA from UCD, a long period in Vodafone and experience of Gordon Brown's tenure of Chancellor of the Exchequer during a stint at the Treasury, advisers don't come more blue chip than Heffernan and she will be a sore loss to Bord Gais as well as a catch for Tesco as the German discounters steal market share.

Heffernan is not the only one to leave the company lately. Former chief executive John Mullins is another top talent who departed to pastures greener.

The ability to hold on to good people without the possibility of a lucrative post-privatisation pay out is sure to become a big issue for Bord Gais in 2014 which is a shame because the company is probably our best managed semi-state and will soon be responsible for our water supplies as well as gas and electricity.

Frisell off to a sunny IMF role

Speaking of magical new roles, the Punt understands Central Bank chief economist Lars Frisell is off to an all-round sunnier place.

The bank announced last month that Mr Frisell would be leaving his post to take up a job with the International Monetary Fund.

We all assumed it would be in Washington, where the international fund is based. But no, it appears he'll be moving to Mauritius, which plays host to the IMF's African training institute.

The Swedish economist joined the Dame Street- bank last June.

It is expected that Mr Frisell will remain with the bank until March.

However, a search for his replacement is expected to get under way imminently. He is the latest senior figure to leave the bank, with Matthew Elderfield departing to take up a job with Lloyds.

While the Central Bank enjoys stunning views of the Dublin skyline, we think looking out of an office window on a tropical island might be more appealing.

We wish him well.

Moloney swaps milk for boxes

FROM dairy to packaging – the former group managing director of Glanbia has switched to Smurfit Kappa.

John Moloney, the long-time managing director of the dairy firm, announced he was quitting in May.

The move spooked investors, with the stock falling.

But going out on a high is the way to go.

A 25-year veteran of Glanbia and its predecessor companies, he was appointed as managing director in 2001.

Since then, the share price has increased more than fivefold and Glanbia has been transformed from an Irish food business into a food multinational, with operations all over the world.

Mr Moloney was instrumental in harnessing the firm's whey protein sector into a consumer-facing business that has capitalised on the surging interest in fitness supplements from consumers around the world, but in particular in the US.

Smurfit Kappa will be hoping he can bring some of that magic to his new role as a non-executive director.

Model pupil has work to do yet

MICHAEL Noonan was on top form yesterday, wooing investors in London during a speech in Bloomberg.

He must feel a sense of relief to be able to talk about Ireland's exit from the bailout as we top the Forbes list for the best place in which to do business and also have Bank of Ireland start to repay its bailout loans.

The yield on the 10-year bond remains hovering around 3.5pc – better than before the bust. All good news.

But he can't quite escape reality. Back at home the Central Bank was unveiling a rather downbeat macro financial review.

It warned further austerity and high private sector debt would weigh on domestic demand, while distress among SME borrowers is "particularly acute".

We may appear to be the model pupil, and recovery appears to be in the air, but we've quite a while to go yet.

Irish Independent

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