Thursday 17 October 2019

Skuli tries for WOW factor

WOW Air plans to launch flights to Boston and Washington DC from Dublin in October
WOW Air plans to launch flights to Boston and Washington DC from Dublin in October

The founder and chief executive of Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW Air, Skuli Mogensen, was interviewed last week in the Irish Independent. He was chatting about his own background and plans to launch flights to Boston and Washington DC from Dublin in October.

As usual, a lot of the interview was left on the cutting room floor. Mogensen had talked about how Iceland is such a small place (it has a population of about 323,000) and that there are always people hoping you'll fail.

"There is a camp waiting for you to fail," he said of Iceland.

"There's no doubt about it."

"In a small island community, you will always have some envy or someone challenging you or questioning you. That's never going to go away."

"It's absolutely necessary for any culture to welcome and encourage people to take a risk. If they are rewarded financially as a result of that, then we should welcome it," he said.

"Any entrepreneur who starts with a mission of getting rich, will likely fail," he argued.

"It's 24-hour work for years to really build something. It so happens I enjoy that part."

Barrett's in a Muddle

Senator Sean Barrett has come out in force against the proposed takeover of Aer Lingus by British Airways' owner IAG.

Over the past couple of weeks, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport has been hearing the views of interested parties such as unions, business groups, and hoteliers about the takeover attempt.

The Punt has attended many such Oireachtas committee hearings over the years and one thing that always strikes home is how often committee members lack any real understanding of the subject matter that they're meant to be au fait with.

That, coupled with obvious grandstanding, can make the whole thing somewhat excruciating.

Barrett told the committee last week that he'd recently been in his local SuperValu, which used to be a Superquinn outlet, and lamented how there was no sign that Feargal Quinn had ever had a hand in the stores. He pointed out that Musgrave now owns the shops, and insisted that that's what happens when businesses get bought out - the original identity gets wiped out.

It was utter nonsense, compounded by the fact that Superquinn had actually been bought by property speculators in 2005.

They sold off the properties and the chain - which had already been in trouble - continued to suffer.

Musgrave stepped in to save it in 2011, buying it out of receivership for about €250m.

Burrows digs deeper into BAT

The Punt sees that former Irish Distillers boss Richard Burrows decided to buy a few shares in British American Tobacco (BAT) to celebrate the New Year.

Burrows is the chairman at BAT (and a former Bank of Ireland governor) and acquired 5,000 shares in the company on December 31, when they were trading at around £35.20 per share. That was for a total of a cool £176,000 (€235,000).

The purchase brought the total holding controlled by him and his family in the company to 15,000 shares. They're currently worth around £553,000 (€739,000).

BAT's brands include Dunhill, Rothmans, and Benson & Hedges.

Last month, Burrows was welcoming three new directors to the BAT board. They include none other than the former finance minister of Brazil, Pedro Malan.

He served in that role between 1995 and 2002. He was also the country's Central Bank president from 1993 to 1994.

And with tobacco companies ostracised from mainstream advertising in the western world, let alone sponsoring sports events, it's incredible to see the links persist in other parts of the world.

A report last week in the Philippine Star noted how BAT had sponsored a speaking engagement for the country's Sports Commission.

It was addressed by marathon runner and Guinness Book of Records holder Dick Beardsley.

The local BAT general manager was on hand to praise him.

Beardsley had other engagements during the week, including talks for BAT employees.




Irish Independent

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