Thursday 14 December 2017

Thomas Molloy: Viking sails in to make waves at Pensions Reserve Fund

FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan is almost single handedly injecting foreign blood into Ireland's boardrooms to clear up the mess created during the Celtic Tiger era.

The National Pensions Reserve Fund got a bit of Viking blood this week with the appointment of Knut Kjaer, the hugely successful creator of Norway's oil fund in 1996.

The minister must be hoping that the 54-year-old Norwegian will be able to repeat his success in Norway where he turned that country's fund into Europe's largest shareholder and the world's third-largest sovereign wealth fund before his resignation in 2007.

Under Kjaer's management, the $353bn (€264bn) fund introduced ethical standards for its holdings in 2004 and sold shares in 21 companies involved in human rights abuses, environmental damage or the production of armaments. Kjaer, an avid sailor and the man that 'The Times' of London once called Norway's most powerful person, was executive vice president at the insurer Storebrand before joining the central bank and has a degree from Harvard Business School. About 40pc of the fund was invested in stocks, and the rest is in fixed income, under Kjaer's leadership.

Quiet down the back

One wonders whether anybody sniggered in their chairs this week when Kersten Mehl, the new president of the Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute (IAVI), gave his presidential address.

Mehl lashed out at "Irish people who were absorbed with self-enrichment" and a Government that "seemed oblivious to what our society stood for or where it was going".

Construction and property effectively became the economy, rather than an important component of it, he added. This all led to a "crescendo of greed only to come crashing down with a vengeance", the audience was told.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the public continues to blame the IAVI members for their part in the crash.

Somer time

FORMER NTMA boss Michael Somers is joining the board of US insurance group Willis which recently shifted its HQ from Bermuda to Dublin.

The 67-year-old will sit on the group's risk committee. "The Doc" as he was affectionately known in the NTMA, retired last year from the agency he set up for Charlie Haughey, a few months after telling the Dail that he knew nothing about NAMA other than what he read in the papers. Somers sits on several other boards, including that of Allied Irish Banks, the European Investment Bank, St Vincent's Hospital, the UCD Foundation and the Abbey where he sits alongside New York art lover Loretta Glucksman.

The man with Elan

DUBLIN'S best connected stockbroker Kyran McLaughlin is leaving Elan after five years as chairman.

The move, which follows Elan's decision to split in two, leaves the part owner of Davy Stockbrokers and London's Savoy Hotel as a board member of just one listed company, Ryanair, as well as a board member of around 40 other companies connected to some of Ireland's richest movers and shakers.

Irish Independent

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