Tuesday 20 March 2018

The Punt: No triumph for Walsh... yet

IAG boss Willie Walsh. Photo: Bloomberg
IAG boss Willie Walsh. Photo: Bloomberg
Stelios Haji-Ioannu poses in Monaco on his boat EasyCruiseOne in Monaco. Photo: Bloomberg

Poor old Willie Walsh. That's not a sentence we expect people say too often but the IAG chief executive has been denied his day in the sun, at least for now.

This morning his International Consolidated Airlines Group - the parent of British Airways and Iberia - is set to announce its half-year results.

As part of the announcement, Walsh was widely expected to tell the world his company had effectively taken over Aer Lingus.

The deadline for shareholders to accept the IAG offer was yesterday at 1pm. All the major shareholders, including Ryanair, the Government, and Etihad, had indicated they would accept the IAG offer.

Except Ryanair didn't formally agree to the deal by the deadline.

This doesn't change the course of the deal, Ryanair will still sell its Aer Lingus holding to IAG, but it does mean Walsh won't be able to tell investors his company has completed its months-long pursuit of the former Irish flag carrier.

We don't think Walsh will mind too much though. With IAG shares up 60pc in the last year, a delay in this deal won't be too big a problem.

No blinking at Hibernia AGM

Most rows at an annual general meeting can go either way. They can be like the bank AGMs since the crash,  where wiped-out shareholders stand up and give out yards to the board, or there can be an attempted takeover, such as there was at the investment group One51 a few years back.

Most of the time though AGMs are fairly routine affairs. The company chief executive gives a presentation on the business, a few shareholders ask questions, and then after a quick vote on resolutions, everyone goes for a coffee and a chat.

Hibernia REIT's annual meeting in Dublin's Marker Hotel yesterday though was one for the ages. By The Punt's reckoning, it was all over 11 minutes after it began. There was no presentation from the man in charge, Kevin Nowlan, and there were no questions from the floor.

Hibernia is perhaps a little different from other listed companies in that apart from a consortium of retail investors assembled by Goodbody, the vast majority of investors are institutional, and they are by and large happy.

Only one resolution was passed with less than 99pc support. There are a few companies that would kill for that level of agreement.

Irishman in the FastJet lane

Heard of FastJet? It's the African low-cost carrier that's backed by EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, below, and which was founded in 2012. He stuffed £5m (€7.1m) more into the airline last April, as it raised funds for expansion.

The airline has three Airbus A319s that operate from Tanzania, but it believes it could have a fleet of 34 aircraft by 2018. It has ambitions to be the first pan-Africa low-cost carrier, and to operate across a number of countries there.

And all this growth could work out nicely for Irishman Cian Mac Eochaidh.

His South African PR firm, Tribeca, has been tasked with handling media enquiries for the airline in that country.

Many moons ago he was an account manager with PR firm Text100 in Dublin. He then moved to the firm's South Africa office in Johannesburg, working there from 2003 until the end of 2005, when he branched out on his own.

He's attracted a suite of very nice clients along the way, including MasterCard, Saab Grintek Defence, Toshiba, Epson, Orange Business Services, and of course, FastJet. No doubt he'll be working hard to retain FastJet as a client as it expands.

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business