The Punt: Willie Walsh wins the lotto


It's the headline he didn't want to see. Willie Walsh spoke at length this week at the Chartered Accountants Leinster Society lunch in Dublin. It was an interesting chat about the IAG business, some insight into its accounting and how bean counters, not Masons (although perhaps they're not mutually exclusive), are ruling the world.

Asked if he had a euro to bet on the likely outcome of the Aer Lingus takeover bid, Walsh said he couldn't comment given the constraints placed on him by the Takeover Panel. Which brought him to an aside: "I was in Tipperary last weekend and was in a pub - Paddy's in Terryglass - a lovely pub," he told the audience, adding that the local lotto was being done in aid of the GAA club. At €5 a ticket, Walsh pitched in.

"I got a telephone call last night that I'd won. Nobody got the numbers right but apparently they drew my envelope out of the hat so I win €25. That's it I'm retiring."

The odds may be in favour of the Government deciding to sell its 25.1pc stake in Aer Lingus, but it's a deal even seasoned gamblers might be unwilling to bet on.

Squirrel? You off your trolley?

While The Punt is sad to see the SuperValu owner take a bit of a pounding in the UK, it's slightly relieved that Musgrave has sold off its Budgens chain of independent community supermarkets.

Many Budgens stores pride themselves on supplying local communities with trendy high-end produce - and thankfully English tastes didn't cross back into the SuperValu mainstream on this side of the Irish Sea.

You might recall that the residents of leafy Crouch End some years back developed an appetite for a left-of-field dish: squirrel meat.

Head butcher Gary Singleton, pictured, revealed back in 2010 that he'd sold out of a shipment of 20 of our furry friends in less than an hour, with more on order. Ostrich meat? So passé as the well-heeled Londoners (the store is popular among 'Guardian' readers) were going nuts for squirrel risotto.

The animal lobby were up in arms - devouring legs of cuddly lambs is one thing, but our layabout park-dwelling grey squirrels were quite another.

Still, The Punt wouldn't necessarily be on the side of our rodent pals, looking on them as mice with good PR.

Still, now that the link with the Musgrave mothership has been broken, we Irish can look down on our English friends as we tuck in to blood-filled drisheen, ox tongue and pig's trotters.


Noonan to get a lunch roasting

It must be frightening to get an invite to lunch or dinner at Mark Fielding's house.

Maybe he's a softy when he takes off his Irish Small and Medium Enterprises hat, but he's a bit of bulldog when he has it on. Or at least, that's what he'd like us to believe.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has been invited to attend and speak at Isme's annual lunch next Friday.

Fielding put out a press release warning the minister that there are no free lunches, and he should ready himself for some tough questions.

"Over 500 members and their guests will attend at what is probably one of the best business networking events on the calendar and there are likely to be some hard questions, either from the floor or afterwards, directed at the Minister about how and why entrepreneurs are discriminated against, paying more tax for less benefits than any other group in society," Fielding said.

It's like inviting somebody around to your house, and telling them in advance that it's potentially going to be a deeply uncomfortable encounter.

The minister might want to have a snack first. He may not get much chance to eat his lunch.