Friday 23 March 2018

The Punt: Media grounded over Willie

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh. Photo: Steve Humphreys
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The views of IAG boss Willie Walsh are in high demand these days, particularly as talks on the proposed takeover by the British Airways owner of Aer Lingus rumble on.

Walsh gave a speech in Dublin yesterday, at a breakfast event organised by head-hunting consultancy group Merc Partners.

The Punt would love to tell you all about it.

Unfortunately, it was all a big secret.

There were scores of business leaders in the room, hanging on his every word.

Walsh entertained them at length, managing to intersperse business talk with a few funny and engaging anecdotes.

Needless to say, it was all very impressive.

But the talk was "off the record", a result of takeover rules that are apparently so strict the poor man can barely open his mouth without clearing it with the lawyers first.

Still Walsh, pictured below, carried it off, assuming that is that everyone in the vast conference room is as discreet as the Punt.

HP v Lynch, game on

We've all had it, after the rush of blood to the head and the lavish impulse purchase comes the inevitable flood  of regret.

But its fair to say that the fallout from Hewlett Packard's 2011 deal to buy software firm Automony is among the worst cases of buyer's remorse ever.

The latest twist in what all sides must regard as a fairly sorry tale at this stage is a flurry of legal actions that have commenced in London.

Tipperary-born technology entrepreneur Mike Lynch said he will file a counter claim against HP after the US company lodged a claim against him and his former colleague Sushovan Hussain seeking damages of a whopping $5.1bn (€4.75bn) over his management of Autonomy, the British IT company he founded, and sold to HP.

Autonomy was supposed to be the $10bn centerpiece of a shift into software for printer maker HP. But the deal quickly turned sour and a year after the takeover the US company wrote off three quarters of Autonomy's value, and sought to lay the blame squarely on Lynch and his former colleagues.

The case is bitter and the stakes are high. The action will all happen at London's Chancery Division High Court.

An udder name for Dairy Board

We here at the Punt are delighted with the the Irish Dairy Board's name change. Not only is Ornua simple, concise and to the point, it is  so dripping with Gaeilge we half expected the email announcement to do a merry jig when opened.

The Punt hears the rationale behind the Board's name change was due to confusion overseas, where some markets thought it was a Government body.

Although Ornua is a fine name, it is hard to imagine overseas investors mistaking it for a State authority, so the marketing chaps over at the Board seem to have hit the nail on the head.

That is if investors can figure out what an Ornua is in the first place.

However, the Punt can't help but wonder if there is the possibility for some Nua-based confusion.

With Renua and Ornua launching so soon, it may be difficult for the less politics or dairy-savvy man or women on the street to keep up with which Nua is which.

Perhaps the dairy link will be the X-Factor that Renua was looking for and will see Lucinda Creighton swept into office on a tide of milk and honeyed words.

Irish Independent

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