Tuesday 12 December 2017

The Punt: Gallic fries as Pierre grilled

Dr. Rhona Mahony
Dr. Rhona Mahony

Pierre Moscovici was being feted around Dublin yesterday as he heralded our "remarkable" recovery but cautioned that the Government must remain prudent.

Europe's Economics Commissioner, who flew in early yesterday, appeared firstly at an event organised by the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA) where he gave a lengthy address pointing out our successes and the risks still facing us. But it wasn't all plain sailing for the former Finance Minister of France.

At the IIEA event, he was challenged by a representative of St Vincent de Paul who pointed out that the recovery wasn't being felt by everyone,

And later in the afternoon, he received a barrage of unsympathetic questions from People Before Proft TD Richard Boyd Barrett.

He opened with the question: "Why are the Brussels group, of which you are a part, why are you bullying Greece to the point that they might be driven out of the European Union?" All legitimate questions, some would say, although they were easily batted away by the veteran politician.

Another kind of equality

Attending shareholder meetings is part and parcel of the business reporter's life and the Punt has spent far too much time staring at the boards of our listed companies.

It should come as no surprise, but it still does, that those boards contains so few women.

Certainly, no listed company can boast it has more women than men despite women's undoubted contribution to the retail economy. Whether this will change is a moot point. Even businesses in Scandinavia struggle to get anything close to gender equality.

That mysterious absence of women is the topic of a conference in Dublin's Mansion House today hosted by Ibec and the Department of Justice. Just one in ten board members in listed companies are women but it could be worse; in the Dail where women are so scarce (outside the secretarial pool) that we rank below Libya and North Korea when it comes to female deputies.

Speakers include Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, Ibec boss Danny McCoy, former 'Daily Beast' editor Rhona Murphy and Holles Street hospital Master Rhona Mahony, pictured below.

Could be interesting.

The rub of a relic

The celebrity turn is re-emerging as a mainstay of corporate gigs. On this side of the water being linked to successful sportsmen or women is de rigueur for companies.

Its never been entirely clear to the Punt why that should be.

Having treated with success and failure on the field of play, sports stars can make inspirational speakers, of course.

But, there's also a distinct "rub of the relic" element to the trend, a sense that some of the often retired sports star's past success might somehow circulate to a new product or its supporters at a launch event, along with the canapés and drinks.

What's true for sporting heroes on this side of the Atlantic is true of military men in the US where private equity giant KKR has signed up David Petraeus, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, as chairman of its KKR Global Institute.

It seems the former spy chief is also available to wow clients.

Ohio-based money manager Matthew McCarthy got the full treatment when KKR tried to win his business recently. "They didn't really pitch products. They brought out General Petraeus," he said.

Irish Independent

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