Monday 19 March 2018

The Punt: Mr Boucher's day in the sun

BoI chief Richie Boucher
BoI chief Richie Boucher

Bank results have tended to be dour events in recent years, and with good reason too.

By and large the chief executive would arrive in and describe in detail the scale of the losses his company had recorded, and how much it was costing the taxpayer.

For Bank of Ireland however those days seem to be a thing of the past for now.

As it reported net profits for the first half of this year that nearly doubled to €624m, it is perhaps not surprising that company chief executive Richie Boucher, below, was all smiles yesterday.

Boucher clearly believes things are on the up at the moment, and why wouldn't he.

The bank's profit was far ahead of expectations and perhaps more importantly the firm's balance sheet is its strongest for some time, with its tier one capital ratio now over 11pc.

Boucher has been referred to as "the great survivor" for being the only remaining senior executive from before the crash who is still in a top job with one of the main banks. He also seems to be overcoming doubts that he could grow the business after years of cost cutting.

Boucher will never be Mr Popular - nobody associated with the boom ever will be - but for now he seems to be on top of the world.

Who would be a bank chairman?

It's tough at the top of a big bank. Just ask Brian Moynihan. The Bank of America chief executive is under the cosh at the moment.

After taking over in the middle of the financial crisis, he has slowly nursed the gargantuan firm back to health but investors are still not too happy.

Unusually for Wall Street, Moynihan was not made chairman of the company when he took over the firm back in 2009.

That was soon rectified however, and he was elevated to the chairmanship last year, even though it's no longer considered good corporate governance for one person to hold the chair and ceo positions.

Now though, it seems he may lose the chairmanship after a shareholder vote later this year.

Investors will vote on whether the board should have allowed him to be chairman in the first place but realistically it will be a referendum on Moynihan's performance.

Tough times for the Boston native.

Floating on air, for now

Fair play to David Walsh, of Athy, Co Carlow-based Netwatch and Conor McCormack, or Dunleer, Co Louth-based Mcor Technologies.

The two Irish startup founders have put their business ambitions front and centre by outing themselves as the faces of the Irish Stock Exchange #IPOready scheme.

It means security systems developer Netwatch and 3D printer-maker Mcor see themselves as real players, with ambitions to hit the big time.

As so they should be. Both companies are more than 10 years old, and are already not only significant local employers but successfully exporting their products.

#IPOready is coaching ceos and finance chiefs from 10 Irish companies through a three-phase, 15-month programme that will cover everything from finance, and leadership to the hows and whys of attracting investors.

The project is being run by the ISE along with Enterprise Ireland.

It aims to bring home to managers at growth oriented businesses the option of tapping public markets to fund growth.

It's a response to what policy makers see as the problem of too many Irish entrepreneurs selling to international firms just as their businesses are starting to build real scale.

Such a move can be great for founders but it means long-term benefits of Irish enterprise end up being reaped abroad.

Irish Independent

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