Wednesday 21 February 2018

The Punt: ECB's new speaking rules

European Central Bank
European Central Bank

The European Central Bank has set out guidelines for members of its executive board giving speeches or attending meetings, five months after it was criticised for the release of information at a restricted dinner event.

The new measures include the immediate release of speeches or real-time reporting at events where the remarks could be seen as market sensitive. At closed-door events and bilateral meetings, board members must ensure that no market-moving information is released.

Officials must refrain from giving personal views on the state of the economy or the financial sector unless those views have already been expressed publicly, the ECB said.

The roots of the initiative lie in a speech last May by Executive Board member Benoit Coeure in London at a closed-door dinner, which was co-hosted by a research group financed by hedge fund Brevan Howard Asset Management. Coeure said the ECB would boost asset purchases before the summer. Eurozone bonds rallied the following morning when the text was published on the central bank's website.

The incident attracted the attention of the EU ombudsman, who asked the ECB to explain what happened and what steps would be taken to prevent a repeat.

Will Watt  out-shine Lane?

It's like deja-vu all over again. Trinity College, Dublin economics professor Philip Lane is reported to be on the short list of candidates left in the running to take over from Patrick Honohan as governor of the central bank. That's Patrick Honohan the former Trinity College, Dublin economics professor. 

Lane, like others tipped for the top job is remaining tight lipped on the subject. Final interviews - sample question: 'On a scale of one to financial armageddon, how successful was Ireland's light-touch regulatory approach in the 2000s?' - are underway at the moment.

A final decsion - which falls to Michael Noonan as minister for finance to take - could be made next week. An announcment could even be squeezed in as a footnote on Budget Day.

While Lane is an excellent candidate the Punt reckons Robert Watt, the famously bright (geddit) Merrion Street insider may out-shine his rivals at the interviews.

The current Secetary General at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, is also in the race for what remains one of the most sensitive and important public administration jobs in the country.

Cosgrove cooks up a storm

The Punt sees that Dubliner Peter Cosgrove is keeping busy in Australia.

The businessman cum hotelier is developing a new resort at Mollybrook, south of Sydney, called Bannisters Pavilion. He's stuffing a reported A$20m (€13m) of his own money into the project. It will be a sister resort to his existing upmarket Bannisters by the Sea hotel just one kilometre away.

Cosgrove moved to Australia about 35 years ago and bought the Bannisters property 15 years ago. He's also chairman of APN News & Media, in which Independent News & Media sold its 18.6pc stake earlier this year. He's also deputy chairman of Clear Media, China's largest outdoor advertising business.

Some years ago, Cosgrove struck up a friendship with celebrity UK chef Rick Stein (below), and Bannisters has a restaurant licensed with his name.

'The Australian' newspaper reported this week that Stein is also backing the food and beverage component of Bannisters Pavilion.

Irish Independent

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