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The Punt - Macfarlane jets off to Abu Dhabi


Stephen Kavanagh (right)

Stephen Kavanagh (right)

Stephen Kavanagh (right)

The Punt can only imagine that former Aer Lingus chief financial officer Andrew Macfarlane had a chance to visit Etihad's gleaming HQ in Abu Dhabi during his tenure on the board of the Irish airline.

Etihad now has a near 5pc stake in Aer Lingus, and the pair also have a codeshare agreement. But if the Scotsman did manage to see the sights in Abu Dhabi, it appears he liked them well enough that he decided to put down roots for a while.

In April, Macfarlane announced he would leave Aer Lingus and he headed for the door in September. He said that he would be taking up a role with an unspecified company in the Middle East.

The Punt sees that he is now working as head of operations with the real estate and infrastructure department at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund of the oil-rich emirate and one of the planet's biggest such vehicles.

Established nearly 40 years ago, it invests in a broad range of assets around the world.

Those assets are reckoned to be worth close to a whopping $1 trillion (€802bn).

Mr Macfarlane was at one stage group finance director with Land Securities, the largest property group in the UK, and once said he missed working for such an international group.

Looks like he's back in a business where he might be happiest.

Burlo refurb is on the Double

The old Burlington Hotel in Dublin continues to get a makeover by its new(ish) owners.

The 500-bedroom property was sold in 2012 for €67m - just a fifth of the boomtime €288m developer Bernard McNamara paid for it in 2007. It was bought by US venture capital fund Blackstone.

Blackstone then leased the property and it is operated as a Doubletree by Hilton brand. Latest accounts show that last year the hotel made a pre-tax profit of €258,000 on turnover of €19.7m.

The figures also included about six weeks from 2012, when Blackstone took control of the property.

A planning application to refurbish the exterior of the building has just been approved by Dublin City Council and will add to extensive works that have already been undertaken at the property.

"It is considered that above ground level the front facade is somewhat of an eyesore and does not have any architectural merit," the hotel's design consultants have told the council.

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Central Bank in talks with CPP

Troubled British insurer Card Protection Plan (CPP) has been updating shareholders about its on-going survival plans, including discussions with the Central Bank of Ireland.

The company was fined €13m a couple of years ago in the UK for mis-selling insurance to consumers there. In the past couple of months, it started writing to about 20,000 Irish customers, many of whom will be entitled to compensation.

The card insurance was pedalled to consumers as a way of protecting themselves against fraudulent transactions on their credit cards if the card was lost or stolen. Only problem is, consumers aren't liable anyway for any fraudulent transactions on their cards, so the insurance was pointless.

CPP said last week that as of the end of August, it has paid £31.8m (€40m) in redress.

"Discussions with the Central Bank of Ireland in respect of historical card protection sales made by Irish banks to customers in the Republic of Ireland have progressed," it notes. It hasn't yet made a provision for likely claims here.

CPP has raised money to bolster its finances and has also put itself up for sale.

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