Business Irish

Sunday 20 October 2019

Top five moments in business that shocked Ireland in 2017

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary. Photo: PA
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary. Photo: PA Business Desk Business Desk

Looking back on 2017 there were some big events that surprised, and indeed shocked, the business community.

Below are our top five:

1) Ryanair hit turbulence

Ryanair was left red faced when it had to cancel about 50 flights a day because of what it described as a "significant management failure in our rostering department".

Ryanair also faced a mounting industrial relations crisis as pilots - many of whom are not employed directly by the airline - sought better contracts.

While the flight cancellations have stopped, the pilot unrest is expected to continue into 2018.

In another major development for the company, in December it agreed to recognise pilot and cabin crew trade unions, in what is arguably the single biggest policy change in the airline's 32-year history.

2) Breon Corcoran steps down from Paddy Power Betfair

Following a weekend of speculation in early August, Paddy Power Betfair announced the departure of Breon Corcoran as CEO.

He has been in the role for around 18 months, since the £7bn merger of Paddy Power and Betfair was completed last year. He had been Paddy Power's chief operations officer, but left for Betfair in 2011.

3) Ireland faced problems for not collecting €13bn from Apple

In October European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced that the Commission would take court-enforcement action against Ireland over failure to collect the €13bn tax money from Apple, which is under appeal by both Ireland and Apple.

Irish officials insist they are still working to comply with the Commission ruling, which will involve calculating the exact amount to be owed before setting up an escrow account.

4) The majority of eir is sold

A consortium controlled by billionaire French telecoms investor Xavier Niel agreed to purchase 64.5pc of eir for an enterprise value of approximately €3.5bn.

The sale of a majority stake is to benefit eir's top managers and the group's lenders who will benefit up to €100m.

The consortium acquiring eir consists of NJJ, the investment vehicle of Mr Niel, which will own 32.9pc of eir, and Iliad SA, a French telecommunications company, which will own 31.6pc.

Mr Niel is the founder of and owns 52pc of Iliad, where he serves as deputy chairman and chief strategy officer.

5) Motor insurance cartel activity

Insurance companies, brokers and representative bodies for the industry were raided in July as part of a probe into alleged price fixing in the motor insurance industry.

It is understood that 45 officers from the State’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and the European Competition Directorate raided the main motor insurance providers.

It is part of an ongoing probe into alleged cartel activity in the insurance industry.

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