Business The Punt

Saturday 16 February 2019

The Punt: King Kong to run Comreg

Minister Alex White
Minister Alex White
Alan Joyce, chief executive officer of Qantas Airways Ltd.

The Punt

The Government has appointed a new chairperson of the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

Jeremy Godfrey, who previously served as the government chief information officer in Hong Kong, has also been a commissioner with ComReg since 2013.

Communications Minister Alex White said his experience as a commissioner and in Hong Kong will help him in "this exciting and challenging role".

"ComReg plays a critical role in regulating the telecommunications and postal sectors and has a key role in creating the environment to optimise continued commercial investment in the sectors," Mr White said.

Godfrey has more than 30 years' experience in telecommunications, IT and public policy. He was the government chief information officer in Hong Kong from 2008 to 2011.

He has held senior roles in Hong Kong Telecom and the Cable & Wireless Group, and has worked for the UK Department of Trade and Industry.

Boozy bankers win this round

Reuters ran a headline yesterday that must have sent a horrified shudder through the banks, and indeed the bars, of Britain: "New rules for UK bankers to include annual health check."

The Punt spent more of our time, and of other peoples' money around Canary Wharf and Cheapside to know it's a prospect to strike terror into the (sluggish) hearts of City bankers.

London bankers have so far fought a successful rear-guard action to protect their God-given right to a three-martini lunch. What, after all is the point of becoming a fat-cat banker, if you are obliged to stay thin?

But it's a close-run thing, what with the intrusions of the ever-beeping mobile phone, the rise of the abstemius "breakfast" meeting and of course the fall-out from the financial crash. Somehow through it all the Brits' commitment to the boozy lunch, and its little brother the written-off afternoon, has been unswerving. In fact, the Punt was so stunned by the Reuters headline, we picked up the phone to Britain's Financial Conduct Authority - who introduced the rules - to find out more.

Panic averted. It seems the only "fitness" tests bankers will be subject to are the kind that go with "probity". Financial health checks are on the cards, we were assured, health "health" checks are most assuredly not.

So, relief all around and mine's a large one.

Our man vs the Establishment

The Punt enjoyed an interesting interview with Qantas boss Alan Joyce in the 'Financial Times' yesterday. The paper noted that the Tallaght-born former Aer Lingus executive has been labelled "devious by politicians, derided as a wrecker by trade unions and lampooned as a leprechaun in the media" but is impervious to it all.

Last year, the 48-year-old Trinity graduate was the second most talked about business person in Australia, registering 80,000 media references.

The number one slot went to billionaire James Packer who "dates models and was involved in a televised punch-up outside his home".

The newspaper quotes an aviation expert as saying Joyce doesn't really stand a chance when it comes to the Establishment.

"You are on a hiding to nothing running the iconic national airline because so many things are out of your control," says Peter Harbison, executive chairman at Capa, the aviation consultancy. "When you happen to be short with an Irish brogue you get some derogatory treatment." But then Joyce really is tough. In 2011 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and after treatment was back at his desk within a few weeks.

The openly gay chief executive told the paper his father worked three jobs to pay the mortgage while his mother rose at dawn to work as a cleaner at a local sports centre. "It got me into the habit of getting up early," says Joyce. "I still get up at 5am."

Another Aer Lingus official lost to Ireland.

Irish Independent

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