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Jim King

Journalists are seldom known for their money-making ability or executive skills. Ex-Guinness Peat Aviation (GPA) figure Jim King is a notable exception with his aviation business credentials.

The son of a well-known journo, King became a reporter also, working first with the Irish Press and later with the Daily Herald and Sunday Express in London. He moved out of newspapers and into retail, as chief executive of Kilkenny Design.

He left there to join Tony Ryan's GPA in 1981, one of the early members of the cadre of high-flyers that Ryan gathered around him.

GPA would become the largest aircraft trading business in the world with $250m in yearly profits and over 200 staff. King ran the aircraft leasing side before being promoted to group vice-chairman in late 1992.

King, with Tony Ryan, set up the aircraft maintenance company Shannon Aerospace, which was later bought by Lufthansa.

By the Nineties GPA's business was under pressure. The Gulf War and a downturn in the airline industry were hitting the leasing sector.

The disastrous float of 1992 has been well documented. Employee shares, including King's, were soon worthless.

He ran his own leasing company for several years and has been involved in major aviation leasing firms that mushroomed up in tax-friendly Ireland, including Pembroke.

He was involved with Domhnal Slattery's budget airline start-up attempt, Jetbird, which is in the process of winding down.

From Mayo originally, King now divides his time between his estate in Co Tipperary and a home in Dublin 4.

He retired as chairman of GPA last year after 14 years, but is a director of a number of aviation investment companies -- including Dublin-based Volito, a joint venture between a Swedish group and Goldman Sachs.

Sunday Indo Business