Sunday 20 October 2019

PUNT: Park this O'Leary overhaul

THE Punt was intrigued and appalled to read that Michael O'Leary is considering an image makeover.

In an interview yesterday, he revealed that: "There's going to be a time over the next few years to ease me out and try to change the image of Ryanair away from being somewhat cavalier, that we don't care," he said.

"I think we need to soften those sharper edges of my personality." The campaign to keep O'Leary just as he is starts here.

Journalists grateful for the yards and yards of copy he has supplied throughout the year will be first in the queue to save this national treasure for future generations but there will be many others.

The trade unions are also likely to sign up to the campaign – the loss of such a potent hate figure would be a serious matter and leave their own incompetence exposed for all the world to see. IBEC, an organisation that has repeatedly failed to get O'Leary's support, is also a likely backer for the putative movement.

Despite IBEC's best intentions, no living Irish business person has any hold on the European imagination that comes anything close to the power exercised by O'Leary.

Curiously, early O'Leary watchers report that he was not always the brash and abrasive character he is today.

Reports suggest a shy, young man who read management books morning, noon and night and was often seen wearing a jacket and tie.

The straight-talking O'Leary we have come to know appears to be a complex construction aimed at hiding a somewhat shy and diffident Clongowes boy.

Asking O'Leary to change again, relatively late in life, to suit Ryanair is just too much.

Leinster's an SME at heart

PROFESSIONAL rugby is a glamorous game. Whether it's nights on 'The Late Late Show', heroic acts on the pitch in front of thousands of adoring fans, or the sponsorship and monetary opportunities that go with it, there are a lot of kids (and adults) who would do anything to turn out regularly for teams like Leinster.

In the professional game, of course, there is another side to the business. Sponsors must be kept happy, with stars and coaches required to appear almost on demand at various events.

So it proved yesterday when Leinster head coach and incoming Ireland boss Joe Schmidt found himself speaking about small business lending at the launch of Bank of Ireland's National Enterprise Week.

Schmidt espoused the certainty that Bank of Ireland has given Leinster and the advantage that financial security gives the province when it comes to retaining and attracting players. If anything, his words confirm what we know but sometimes forget.

For all its star players, any top-flight sports team is at its heart an SME. Beyond the playing squad and coaches, clubs tend to have only a few dozen staff at best. Their basic challenges aren't that different to any other small firm in the country.

The Punt reckons that one problem Leinster doesn't have, though, is accessing credit. If they do, then we're all in big trouble.

No buts as Winkler says sorry

The grovelling apology from Bloomberg News editor-in-chief Matt Winkler is a rare setback for one of the men who has shaped the way we think about financial news over the past decade.

Mr Winkler has gone from strength to strength since he left his 'Wall Street Journal' job reporting on the US bond market to help Michael Bloomberg, the current mayor of New York, set up a news service for his financial data empire.

Bitter ex-employees have often chronicled his angry enforcement of style rules and his hatred of loose adjectives or words such as "but", which are banned in Bloomberg copy despite remaining popular in the real world.

With his bow-ties and endless obsession with accuracy, Mr Winkler is indeed easy to mock but he is also a serious character who has done a lot to raise the quality of financial reporting almost everywhere on the globe.

Today, Mr Winkler is still in total control of that news service which employs thousands of reporters and has millions of readers around the world.

His rare visits to Dublin often leave reporters trembling and involve endless visits with everybody from finance ministers to Central Bank governors.

The Punt is told that these interviews sometimes leave everyone somewhat bewildered.

Irish Independent

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