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Ethna KOs cronies at EBS

Posted on: April 22nd, 2008

A bloody nose for EBS chairman Mark Moran and his crew of cronies. The EBS AGM sees challenger Ethna Tinney wipe the floor with his nominees, romping home several thousand votes ahead of them. Mark fails to fall on his sword, despite his known opposition to Ethna. ‘Resignation’ is an unknown word in the lexicon of the EBS.

The members have sent a clear message: Mark’s refusal to recommend Ethna has been resoundingly rejected. Yet he and his band of third-raters all have the brass neck to soldier on. God help the EBS.

Mark was a feeble performer at the AGM. He failed to answer questions about Ted McGovern’s €1.9m payoff. He failed to explain how the EBS had lost €15m (nearly 20 per cent of profits) by giving lunatic loans to rogue solicitors. Members have paid dearly for this folly, far more per skull than shareholders in any of the banks. Worst of all in the arrogance stakes, he refused to ask his hand-picked candidates to stand up and offer reasons for their re-election. Ethna Tinney did it, but Ethna has bottle.

And, come to think of it, why should they have bothered? Mark’s pockets were stuffed with 13,000 proxies, most of which he cast in favour of the silent figures on the podium.

Cathal Magee, Philip Williamson, Jim Ruane and Pat McCann were dumbstruck. Liam Mulvihill was wheeled out to say a few words in the hope that his GAA pedigree would win over the audience. It didn’t. The other dummies on the platform were happy to leave the verdict to Mark’s proxies.

Ethna reaps 13,290 votes, over 3,000 ahead of Jim Ruane, Mark’s pal from the Mater Private Hospital stable — who just scraped in.

Bottom of the poll is poor Linda O’Shea Farren, a serial candidate, but a weak one. Opponents of the board should have nominated a person of more substance. Linda is a successful society hostess but she should give up trying to get elected to things.

Next year Mark is due for re-election. He will need to up his game. Or members will show him the door.

The EBS staff, the unsung heroes and heroines of the debacle, play a blinder. They are polite, efficient and welcoming. But many tell me that they are privately demoralised by the motley crew at the top.


The DCC v Fyffes court judgment. A final indictment of DCC boss Jim Flavin is delivered. His company is forced to hand over €41m to compensate Fyffes for Jim’s insider dealing. The knockout blow at last? Do not believe it.

Jim still squats in all his glory at the top of Ireland’s greasy corporate pole, backed up by almost the entire Irish business establishment. The rich and powerful have closed ranks behind Jim.

The spineless Irish Association of Investment Managers, the Stock Exchange, the Ibec eunuchs and the toothless financial regulator are all mute despite a Supreme Court ruling against Jim.

The regulators seem paralysed. The club is eyeballing them and the regulators have blinked.

All eyes are now on the Director of Corporate Enforcement, Paul Appleby. Will he act?

What are the authorities up to? The wretched financial regulator has engineered mighty publicity for its heavy fines on Phoenix magazine and the Irish Times. Both tipped shares anonymously. A truly trivial sin. Yet the watchdogs fail to act on an €85m insider-dealing controversy.

The financial regulator is a headless chicken, a publicity junkie.

Jim seems untouchable. His faithful board still contains three members of the Bank of Ireland club, namely former deputy governor Tony Barry, one-time chief executive Maurice Keane and current head of a Bank of Ireland subsidiary, Roisin Brennan.


And talking of the Bank of Ireland, my first date today is with a man who has taken to satirising the Bank of Ireland in poetry. Morgan Dockrell, a member of the family that once owned Ireland’s premier builders’ providers, is none too pleased with the performance of its Private Banking outfit. He has lost a few bob, but particularly objects to their “management charges” which he still has to pay while they continue to lose his money. PB= Private Banking.

ASSETS . . . A Valedictory Owed . . .

Concerning my EX £sd

There’s only one thing sure, oh,


DOWN TO THE FINAL EURO.” ( 1.35%-2.75%)

With assets crashing in the City,

At least PB are sitting pretty.

My comfort in my paper losses,

(Which my descendants MAY recoup)

Is bearing that most sweet of Crosses

As Benefactor for my ‘Bosses’,

The selfless Bank of Ireland Group,

For though (my choice) I’m dividendless,

The PB’s “Expertise” fee’s endless.


Here, selfless Patriot to the end, I lie,

Blithe Benefactor of the B of I.

Morgan Dockrell


Private Banking is suddenly a hot topic; this fashionable little racket may be heading for an end. Or so it transpires from today’s press, full of news about how one of Ireland’s brightest and best, Anne Heraty, has taken a bath, due to a falloff in recruitment in the wealth management area. CPL, her recruitment company, issues a shock profit warning. The shares tank.

Anne and her husband lose a cool €15m on the day. The duo’s CPL stock is down €85m from the peak.

Add that to Anne’s loss on her 25,000 Anglo Irish shares — where she is a director — and our top female business star is having a rough year.

Perhaps the CPL chief spotted the warning lights: Anne is yet another victim of the curse of the business bauble. She was recently named Ernst &Young ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’. The kiss of death.

Anne does not deserve relegation into the same league as the hapless Maurice Pratt. Maurice won the Business & Finance ‘Person of the Year’ award — just before C&C shares headed south from a high of over €13 to below €4.


I prepare for two big dates in the business calendar. On Tuesday AIB will be 41 and holds its AGM in Bank Centre Ballsbridge at noon.

And tomorrow Denis O’Brien is 50 and holds his birthday bash just across the road from AIB in Wanderers Rugby Club. I am not invited to either, but intend going to both. Wouldn’t miss Denis’s party for anything.

I never imagined for one moment that Denis was nine years older than AIB.

But as Denis would say himself, if that is the case it must be time to move on, hand over to a younger man.

Anyway I am offering a signed first edition of Jim Flavin’s A Short Guide to Insider Dealing for the best reader’s letter proposing a present for Denis’s 50th. Any smart suggestions such as a week losing weight in a Wicklow boot camp won’t be countenanced.

I know what he would really like, but he is never, ever going to get that . . .