Business The Punt

Saturday 20 January 2018

The Punt: Ross rooting for Britain in EU

American investor Wilbur Ross Photo: Bloomberg
American investor Wilbur Ross Photo: Bloomberg

BILLIONARIE Wilbur Ross may be backing Donald Trump for the White House in November, but he's not backing the would-be President's stance on Brexit.

For Ross, a British withdrawal would mark the "most expensive divorce proceeding in the history of the world".

A so-called Brexit "would be terrible" for sterling as well as the UK, European and US markets, Ross said in an interview with Bloomberg.

But the veteran investor said he was going long on the UK because he believed that "the British public would come to its senses and not make this very foolhardy decision to leave."

"It's the people that are retired that seem to be most in favour of leaving and that's really strange," Ross said.

"In most countries it's the older people which are more conservative.

"Here it's the young people who want to stay and the old people who want to plunge off into the dark."

But he said he didn't think it would be a "Lehman moment" in that the world won't come to an end.

Problems for ex-Ulster boss

In his time in charge of Ulster Bank, Jim Brown earned a reputation as a pretty straight talking New Zealander while he tried to rehabiliatate the Royal Bank of Scotland-owned bank.

Last year he left his job at Ulster Bank to run the launch of RBS' new consumer bank in the UK, Williams & Glynn. However word now reaches The Punt that the new brand may never get off the ground. Press reports in the UK indicate RBS has put on hold its marketing campaign for the brand, which it is required to create under state aid rules.

'The Times' suggests that the new bank may never see the light of day because of what it calls "IT issues and management problems".

RBS is trying spin out 300 of its branches into the Williams & Glynn business ahead of a sale or flotation as a condition of its bailout by the UK taxpayer. Clearly it is proving easier said than done.

It seems Mr Brown did not get the respite he might have hoped for when he left Ulster Bank.

Qatar-Dublin route next year

Dublin Airport appears to be in line to get its latest service to the Middle East sooner than expected.

Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways

Aer Lingus chief executive Stephen Kavanagh said only a few weeks ago that the airline, now part of IAG, was considering either flying to the Middle East, or that Qatar Airways could begin flying to Dublin from Doha. Qatar Airways owns 15pc of IAG.

While Kavanagh said a link to the Middle East would be a medium-term project, it's almost now certain that Qatar will start flying the Dublin-Doha route next May.

A major route announcement by the DAA for an unnamed service was postponed last week for, it's understood, logistical reasons. But it's likely the Qatar service - which will be daily - will be unveiled today.

The route will effectively put Qatar Airways, pictured, in competition with Gulf rivals Etihad and Emirates, which serve Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively from Dublin, with many passengers connecting to Australia, but also to other destinations in Asia. Just how Qatar's arrival will impact its rivals at Dublin remains to be seen.

Qatar is also launching services next year to cities including Auckland, Nice and Lusaka.

Irish Independent

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