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Archive for March, 2008

‘X’ marks spot to save EBS

HIGH noon beckons in the EBS board of directors’ shootout. How should we vote?

Let me break the habit of a lifetime. And be a bit balanced.

Now for my first effort at balance: Fergus Murphy, the new kid on the block at the EBS could be a breath of fresh air. There are signs that Fergus may be opening up Fortress EBS.

For a second bit of balance: not all six candidates recommended for election by EBS chairman Mark Moran are unsuitable for office; one or two are even blessed with talent.

Better still, not all of them voted for the departed boss Ted McGovern’s outrageous €1.9m pay-off last year. Some of them did. Others were, happily, not yet on the board.

Remember Ted’s shock parting package, as revealed in the Sunday Independent? It is a shameful monument to Mark Moran’s regime, a mockery of the members.

Unfortunately, the EBS ringmaster, Mark himself, will not seek re-election this year. We will have to wait until 2009 for that spicy little contest.

Enough of balance for now. Down to business. You ought to have received your EBS ballot. It should be returned in good time for the AGM on April 14.


Farewell To The Shamrock


MONDAY: the scene is the White House, Washington. The financial world is facing its worst crisis since World War Two. It is also St Patrick’s Day.

Today, you would have to feel a twinge of sympathy for a besieged George Bush.

Imagine the pandemonium in the Oval Office: President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen are locked in crisis talks; the world’s financial markets are tanking; the dollar is imploding; Bear Stearns, one of the biggest investment houses in the US, has just gone belly up; a massive rescue operation has been launched; Gordon Brown is on the blower; the Bush family fortune is on the line.

There is a knock on the door. “Come in” bellows the President, hopefully anticipating the arrival of the cavalry. Maybe it is Fed boss Ben Bernanke, or possibly the old master Alan Greenspan, even Warren Buffett riding to the rescue of the US economy.

The door opens: Enter a well-known Drumcondra “accountant”.


A Real Threat To Ireland Inc.

Ireland Inc looks a trifle different from the top of an Alp. Suddenly it becomes a nation without a mention on CNN or Bloomberg and totally ignored in the French press. So a perfect bolthole beckoned for an Irish news and gossip junkie seeking to be weaned off his daily fix of misery in the Irish media.

I found just the job: a small skiing village in France was carefully picked to teach me — pretty painfully — that we Irish are not the centre of the universe. A daily diet of the Dow and the Nasdaq, of Bush and Sarkozy, was perfect medicine for my insular outlook. The therapy lasted just 48 hours. Last Tuesday, I picked up the Daily Telegraph in pursuit of broader horizons. Whatever remaining drops of nationalist blood that still run in my veins began to boil.


Guzzlers Swimming Naked

Let me tell you the tale of a good gatecrash.

One of the biggest bashes of the year was held in Dublin‘s Citywest Hotel on Thursday.

I was not invited. So I went.

Just short of a thousand people gathered for a gourmet’s guzzle, slap in the middle of Lent. The occasion: Ireland‘s pension fund managers’ annual gig. I headed there in hope of hearing a hint of humility; but knowing the characters and the industry, I hardly expected a craven apology.