Tuesday 23 January 2018

The Punt: Laughing all the way at the bank

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. headquarters stand in New York.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. headquarters stand in New York.

All's well that ends well, at least for Goldman Sachs bankers.

Back in 2008 Goldman handed 36m share options to employees in a bid by the then struggling and strapped bank to hold on to some of its top performers - people who had become used to massive annual pay deals in the go-go years of the credit boom.

The bank handed out the share options after it was forced to slash pay and bonuses when it and all of the so-called bulge bracket US investment banks, with the possible exception of Morgan Stanley, risked being dragged down in the wake of the Lehman Brothers debacle.

At the time shares in Goldman Sachs were on the floor - having lost around 60pc of their value as the credit crunch hit hard.

No doubt there were some cross heads on the bank's trading floors and corporate finance suites at the time. But time is indeed a great healer, at least for top bankers.

New figures from the bank show its employees exercised options worth $2bn last year, the overwhelming proportion granted in the 2008 deal which became exercisable for the first time in 2014.

Joe weathers RTE storm

Cuts to RTE stars' pay don't appear to have hurt Joe Duffy's bank balance too much.

New figures show that the cash pile at the media firm owned by the Liveline presenter climbed to almost €215,000 last year.

The accounts lodged by Claddaghgreen with the Companies Office show that the company increased its cash by €45,704 to €214,024.

The firm's accumulated profits in the year to the end of April 30, 2014, rose from €135,254 to €149,561.

The latest JNLR figures show that Duffy's Liveline is the second most popular radio programme in the country, behind Morning Ireland.

It had a total of 378,000 listeners in the latest period and claims to have the most listened-to segment of any radio show between 1.45pm and 2pm each week day.

Each year, the show generates substantial advertising revenues for the State broadcaster but RTE doesn't provide a breakdown of ad revenues generated by each show.

In 2013, RTE confirmed that Duffy - who recently celebrated his 59th birthday - agreed to a further pay cut to bring his salary to €300,000 - down from €378,000 in 2011 when he was RTE's fourth highest paid presenter behind Ryan Tubridy, Marian Finucane and Pat Kenny who has since departed for Newstalk.

The abridged accounts don't provide the firm's revenues.

Potts' day out with Bertie

Every politician loves a good photo opportunity. Nearly two decades ago, then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was in on the act in his local constituency of Drumcondra - as was the newly-appointed chief executive of UK grocery chain Morrisons, David Potts.

In a blaze of publicity, Ahern and Potts (who was at the time the overall head of Tesco's Irish and UK business) welcomed then British Prime Minister leader Tony Blair and his wife Cherie to a Tesco Express in the north Dublin suburb in November 1998.

Maurice Pratt was there too, in his role as CEO of Tesco Ireland, as was the store manager Pauline Duffy (waiting with a bunch of white carnations), and Ahern's former partner, Celia Larkin.

Two hundred local schoolchildren rounded off the, ahem, low-key event.

The photos from the time show the visitors to the store beaming as photographers and TV crews captured the moment.

Somewhat bizarrely, Tony Blair is holding a blue and white bone china cup and saucer - exactly what you'd expect to be thrust into your hand when you arrive at a Tesco shop.

Apparently, tea and coffee, as well as plates of muffins had been laid out on a table in the store for the visiting guests - all watched over by a store detective in case any shoppers got any ideas.

Potts worked for Tesco until 2011, most recently heading its Asia arm, and has this week been named the new CEO at Morrisons, replacing Wicklow native Dalton Philips. What a blast the '90s were.

Irish Independent

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