Sunday 25 February 2018

The Punt: Firm France pays for Tricel

Mike Stack of Tricel
Mike Stack of Tricel

Mike Stack, the chief executive of Killarney-based Tricel, has just had the pleasure of announcing 40 new jobs. His company has managed to double revenue since 2010 and intends to double again by 2018.

Tricel is a family-owned engineering firm that supplies products such as water tanks and sewage treatment equipment. It was started by Mr Stack's mother and father in a shed in Killarney in 1973. Now he and three brothers run the firm, which got into trouble when the recession brought the Irish construction industry to a halt.

The company survived by throwing everything it had at exporting.

Its breakthrough moment was at a trade show in France in September 2008, when the French government announced new laws that required upgrading of sewage systems in homes.

France, unlike Ireland, implements buildings regulations properly - meaning there was huge demand for Tricel's sewage treatment equipment when the rules came into effect.

Exporting so enthusiastically means your products end up in interesting places. One of the more exotic of these is French Guiana.

The European Space Agency launches rockets from the island which has brought lots of business there - meaning lots of demand for the sewage treatment equipment which Tricel provides.

The spy who loved BP

Board announcements tend to be fairly unexciting. But one from BP raised a few eyebrows last week.

The oil giant announced that it had appointed John Sawers, the former head of Britain's secret intelligence service MI6, as a non-executive board member.

Britain's foreign office said it had accepted the application from Sawers to join BP on condition that "he should not draw on privileged information available to him from his time in the secret service".

It also added that "Sawers should not become personally involved in lobbying the UK Government on behalf of his new employers, their parent companies or their clients" for two years from his last day of service - that was November 1, 2014.

It's not surprising why BP would want him. Prior to his stint as MI6 chief, he served as Britain's ambassador to the UN and has held a number of senior government roles in the Middle East, including in Egypt and Iraq, where BP has large and growing operations. Sawers is not the first top spy to move to BP. Mark Allen, who was director of counter-terrorism at MI6, joined the company soon after retiring in 2004.

New corporate finance player

Duff & Phelps Ireland has appointed a new director of corporate finance, Aidan Flynn.

Trinity Economics graduate Flynn’s previous experience spans Ireland and Australia. He has worked at Rubicon Infrastructure Advisors, Mizuho Bank in Sydney and as an associate director in leverage and project finance with AIB in both Dublin and Australia. He is a qualified chartered accountant, having trained with KPMG.

He will be leading a new corporate finance team at the firm, which has focused on restructuring, insolvency and property asset management since it was bought by its US namesake from RSM Farrell Grant Sparks last year. It is a good sign for Ireland’s economy that insolvency firms are now turning to corporate finance activities as deal-making picks up.

Firms like Duff & Phelps were some of the few to make fortunes during the recession. Receivers, liquidators and examiners earned hundreds of millions in fees, mostly after being sent in by banks to take control of property assets and bust businesses.

Thankfully that kind of business is slowing down from the frantic pace seen in 2010 and 2011. Financing and acquisitions are where the money is at once again.

Irish Independent

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