Wednesday 24 July 2019

Nick Webb: No pot of gold at end of private sector rainbow

Neither Cowen nor his predecessor Ahern have coined it since leaving office, says Business Editor Nick Webb

Bill Clinton, the former US president, and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister
Bill Clinton, the former US president, and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister

Nick Webb

When Brian Cowen left office in 2011, he was linked with a move to the private sector. Former national leaders have tended to make fortunes when handing over the reins of power.

Cowen's move to the private sector didn't materialise. His predecessor, Bertie Ahern, also failed to coin it when stepping down. Bertie was involved in Gerard O'Hare's property development group Parker Green International and a renewable energy firm Scientia Solar. Neither have made their fortune.

While John Bruton, Albert Reynolds and Garret FitzGerald all picked up plum directorships and board positions after leaving politics, none of them has matched the earning power of their international peers Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair has made an extraordinarily lucrative switch to the private sector since leaving Downing Street in 2007.

It has been suggested that his interests, ranging from advising governments and major banks as well as delivering speeches and property investments, have netted him a fortune of close to €90m.

He is paid about €2.91m per year to advise US investment bank JP Morgan Chase, having been recruited in January 2008 six months after leaving office. He also works as an adviser to financial services giant Zurich, earning close to €630,000 per year.

The bulk of Blair's wealth appears to come from his high-level government and corporate advisory business. Having been prime minister of Britain, his contacts book is supreme.

Blair has been linked to advising Mongolia, Colombia and other countries. It has been suggested that his advisory group inked a €31m deal with Kuwait.

Last year it emerged that he had been paid €733,000 for an hour's work to help facilitate €60bn merger talks between the Swiss-based mining company Xstrata, and commodities trader Glencore, in a suite at Claridge's hotel in London.

Blair's private government advisory business is administered by his firm Windrush Ventures, which had revenues of €18.6m in 20011 and profits of nearly €4.2m.

The ex-Labour party leader also has a property portfolio thought to be worth close to €19.8m. This includes an €8.7m period home in Connaught Square in central London, as well as a home bought for his children and a countryside bolthole. Last year he took out a €4.89m mortgage against his home with JP Morgan.

Bill Clinton, has also earned a fortune since leaving the White House, with some estimates suggesting that he has earned €80m from his activities.

The bulk of this money has come from his speaking engagements, but the first big windfall came when the Knopf Publishing Group paid him $15m for the rights to his memoir 'My Life'.

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is the front man for Russian energy giant Gazprom's European operations and serves as chairman of the board of Nord Stream AG, which is behind Europe's largest natural gas pipeline. Schroeder has also worked as a global manager with investment bank Rothschild.

Nicolas Sarkozy was already wealthy when becoming French president as his family had made a fortune in the advertising industry.

On taking power he indicated his net worth to be about €2m. Since leaving office he has commanded a fee of €185,000 for speeches and has been linked with the establishment of a €1bn private equity fund.

Sunday Independent

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