Business Irish

Friday 23 March 2018

The Punt: What David Duffy did next

Former-AIB CEO David Duffy
Former-AIB CEO David Duffy

Remember super-smooth ex-AIB boss David Duffy? Well The Punt's old chum has big plans for his new baby Clydesdale Bank.

The bank is being floated in the new year by its owner National Australia Bank. After difficulties in recent years with a payment protection insurance mis-selling scandal and a sour commercial property loan book, Duffy is keen to draw a line under the past and compete with the big boys over the internet.

Duffy lieutenant Ian Smith, the bank's chief financial officer, said Clydesdale has "a standalone well invested platform that many competitors would like to have. We can expand our business without changing the platform.

"Our core banking platform and key IT systems can be scaled to process double the existing transaction volumes without incurring material additional costs," the 'Telegraph' reported him as saying.

But analyst Gary Greenwood of Shore Capital was sceptical, saying Clydesdale was a "plain vanilla" UK retail and commercial bank that would find it tough to compete on price".

Duffy himself isn't plain vanilla though. Watch this space.

The God squad fraud probe

Italian police have made the year's most unusual swoop, with barely a week to spare.

Authorities in Rome have seized and confiscated about 3,500 Papal blessings, on suspicion of being counterfeit.

The blessings were published on parchments in the name of Pope Francis and were being sold to pilgrims in Rome.

The blessings are understood to have a street value of about €70,000.

Produced in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and English, and featuring elaborate lettering and pictures of the Pope, they were found in the printing shop of a souvenir store near the Vatican.

The proprietor was charged with producing counterfeit goods, an Italian police statement said, according to a report by Reuters. The shop is suspected of muscling in on the Vatican's own blessing business.

Its charitable arm, known as the Apostolic Almonry, sells authentic parchments and uses the money to fund good works in and around the Italian capital. According to Reuters the Vatican ended an outsourcing policy for the parchments last year, and makes them in-house.

Examiner for Mayo hotel

AN examiner has been confirmed by the High Court for a Co Mayo hotel employing 122 people.

Ms Justice Marie Baker said, for reasons including the number of persons employed by the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris, and its role in the local economy, she would confirm examinership.

Claremorris Tourism Ltd (CTL) and MOPB Developments, owner and operator of the hotel, had petitioned the court to confirm the appointment of Kieran Wallace of KPMG as examiner.

CTL and MOPB, led by local accountant Damian Prendergast, built the hotel in 2006 with funds from Ulster Bank and the aid of a tax-relief investment scheme. The scheme was backed by developers such as Seamus Ross of Menolly Homes, Garret Kelleher of Shelbourne Developments, and David Andrews and Michael Tunney of Lioncourt Capital.

Ms Justice Baker rejected arguments against examinership advanced by Coney Investments Designated Activity Company (a fund which acquired the company's loans from Ulster Bank). She also rejected arguments opposing it from the Revenue, owed some €735,000 and from John Killeen, a shareholder and former director of MOPB who is suing it for some €974,775.

The judge said the real dispute in this application was whether the hotel has a reasonable prospect of survival.

Irish Independent

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