Thursday 23 November 2017

The Punt: Veterans take the reins at EI

Richard Bruton: He promises the earth, but the State remains the biggest enemy of the Irish consumer.
Richard Bruton: He promises the earth, but the State remains the biggest enemy of the Irish consumer.

Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton has made two new appointments to the board of Enterprise Ireland.

Helen Ryan and John McMahon were appointed late last month, for a period of no longer than 10 years.

They're replacing Catherine Caulfield and Michael McCloone.

Mr McMahon comes with 14 years' experience at EI's sister agency the IDA, where he served as chief economist and head of enterprise development, followed by more than 20 year's consulting and training experience in a UK-based business and economic development consultancy, of which he was a founding member.

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation listed his specialities as including developing businesses, developing business advisers, developing business support organisations and developing economies.

Ms Ryan is former chief executive at Galway-based medical devices company Creganna – Tactx Medical.

She has more than 20 years' medical device industry experience across a large range of medical therapies including vascular, airway, surgical and urology.

The board's newest additions are taking the reins at a good time for the agency, with exports by EI-backed companies at record levels and the global economy on the up.

The pressure will be on to ensure that success story can continue.

It's trouble and strife for traders

The Punt reckons that the husbands allegedly caught using insider information to make tidy profits have more to worry about than the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

The US watchdog said recently that it took two separate cases against men who, having earwigged on business calls their wives were on, either bought stock or otherwise took positions in companies that were about to be involved in M&A activity or to release poor results.

The SEC claimed that one man, Tyrone Hawk, of California, "overheard work calls being made by his wife, a finance manager at Oracle, regarding her company's plans to acquire Acme Packet".

He bought shares in Acme Packet and the shares subsequently rose 23pc when the acquisition was announced. He made a $150,000 profit, but has paid more than $300,000 to settle the SEC's charges, without admitting liability.

Another man, Ching Hwa Chen, listened to his wife make business calls as they drove to Reno for a holiday. She was working with Informatica. Her husband heard that the firm was set to miss earnings estimates.

He took a position in the stock, betting it would fall. Shares fell 27pc when it announced that it missed earnings. He made a $140,000 profit. He too has settled with the SEC without admitting or denying the allegations, handing over $280,000.

The Punt can only imagine the confrontations with SEC lawyers paled in comparison to the rows at home.

AIB reaches for UK media company

The Central Bank said last week that retail banks are meeting lending targets to businesses, but has declined to say what those targets are. It also declined to say how the banks are progressing in terms of dealing with distressed SME loans.

The Punt notices, however, that AIB's UK arm has been busy with at least one business client. Media and entertainment company Reach4entertainment Enterprises (R4E) said yesterday that it has successfully completed a bank financing with AIB. It also got a handy interest rate reduction. The new agreement establishes a six-year term and a new interest rate of 3pc over LIBOR for the company's £14.8m revolving credit facility.

The old agreement carried a 4pc rate over LIBOR, which was meant to rise to 5pc at the end of this month. The company's board expects to save about £220,000 in interest payments this year. The last set of full-year accounts for R4E saw it generate revenue of £69.3m in 2012, and make a pre-tax profit of £160,000. The Punt bets there are lots of Irish businesses that would be more than welcoming of an interest rate cut, despite the improving economic environment.

Irish Independent

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