Saturday 20 January 2018

The Punt: Labour turns up heat in the City

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Reuters
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Reuters Newsdesk Newsdesk

The latest Labour Party front bench appointment signals the new direction pursued by Jeremy Corbyn.

John McDonnell, who organised Corbyn's successful campaign for the party leadership and is one of his closest political allies, is taking on the role of Treasury spokesman.

McDonnell's views are likely to win him few supporters in the City.

He favours increasing taxation on businesses, the splitting-up of banks, and a financial-transaction tax.

While it wasn't part of Corbyn's election programme, McDonnell is also a critic of the Bank of England. In 2012, he set out his own vision for Labour's first 110 days in power.

"In the first week of a Labour government, democratic control of the major economic decisions would be restored by ending the Bank of England's control over interest rates," McDonnell wrote, saying the power should instead be given to government.

He went on to propose "bringing the nationalised and subsidised banks under direct control to force them to lend and invest their resources to modernise our economy and put people back to work."

Interesting times ahead.

Go-go Harvey finds his mojo

When the Punt hears the Harvey Norman jingle we don't just want to cover our ears. We marvel at the persistence of the Aussie furniture chain that clung on here even after the collapse of the economy.

Gerry Harvey's retailer has been hugely successful in his native Australia, but the plain speaking executive (pictured below) has never tried to hide the brutal impact the crisis had on his Irish unit.

Back in 2008 Mr Harvey compared the economic downturn to the famine, adding that Ireland was a "catastrophe".

The crash here put huge pressure on Mr Harvey, and prompted some investors to call for his removal from the top of the company he had created. Now though, it seems like the Irish venture has weathered the financial storm.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Harvey noted that the market here is now improving, though he acknowledged that his business was "given a kick up the arse" during the economic downturn.

Still, "the Ireland problem is disappearing", he said, while his firm's presence in New Zealand as well as Asia was on the up.

"We are regaining our mojo," he said.

Less a case of 'go Harvey go', than 'stay Harvey, stay'.

Dempsey lands another top job

Irishman Gerard Dempsey has had a varied career to date and his current move could be one of the more interesting posts.

Dempsey (53) is a former finance director at Microsoft Ireland, and also held finance roles at Guinness-maker Diageo, and drug-maker Pfizer. He also worked for Schroders in Australia at one time. Most recently, he's been finance director at the Irish arm of Sandvik Mining and Construction.

But Dempsey has just been appointed chief financial officer of AIM-listed Strat Aero, an aviation company whose services include training for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) use, as well as more general aviation management consultancy. It's a stock market minnow, with a market cap of just £4.4m (€6m).

Strat Aero has also taken on Irishman Paul Ryan as a non-executive director. A Trinity College graduate who previously worked as a solicitor with a London law firm, he also worked with Vodafone in a number of roles, including as its director of strategy and external affairs in Ireland.

Strat Aero has recently launched a UAV service that will help customers analyse wind turbine blades for structural wear. At the moment, that's typically done by a human inspector who has to use a harness.

Irish Independent

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