Friday 23 March 2018

The mixed fortunes of TV's finance gurus

Sean Gallagher: The jury is still out on the business career of former Dragon and presidential candidate Sean Gallagher.

During last year's presidential election campaign Mr Gallagher's business record was subjected to much scrutiny by both his rival candidates and the media.

His main company, Smarthomes, received €733,000 in grants from Enterprise Ireland and Inter Trade Ireland.

Projected growth -- Mr Gallagher forecast a 2011 turnover of €10m at Smarthomes to potential investors -- failed to materialise, with the actual turnover being just €1m, while employment levels collapsed from a peak of 60 to just 20.

Sara Newman

Ms Newman, the partner of Kilkenny hurling legend DJ Carey, was a Dragon in the first series of the show when she gained notoriety for not making a single investment. This was despite selling her dotcom business for €30m in 2006.

However, Ms Newman was not so tight-fisted during the Irish property boom, acquiring properties in the Dublin suburbs of Monkstown and Mount Juliet near the K Club in Co Kildare, and a chalet in the Alpine ski resort of Zermatt.

Then it all went horribly wrong. In May 2011 the couple consented to a judgment of more than €9m against them by AIB.

Bobby Kerr

Unlike Ms Newman, Bobby Kerr saw the recession coming and sold the Insomnia Coffee chain, of which he owned 51pc, to an Icelandic consortium for €16m in 2008. His appearance as a Dragon has led to a burgeoning media career and he now presents a programme on the Newstalk radio station.

Still involved with Insomnia as its chairman, he bought the Bang Cafe from the liquidator in 2010. Keep taking the coffee Bobby.

Irish Independent

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