Cantillon

Tue, Sep 25, 2012, 01:00

Inside the world of business

 

London solicitors offer Quinns their expertise

THE WAR between the family of former billionaire Seán Quinn and the former Anglo Irish Bank took another curious twist in court yesterday as a new firm of solicitors, London firm Edwin Coe, said they were willing to fight for the family.

Dublin firm Eversheds came off record for the family earlier this month after the Quinns claimed that they had no funds to pay them. Local groups supporting the Quinns in the Cavan-Fermanagh region said this week they had raised funds to help the Quinns.

David Greene, a partner at Edwin Coe, wrote to Quinn’s daughter Aoife and her husband Stephen Kelly, saying that one of the reasons why the firm had been asked to assist the Quinns is “our familiarity with the issues that are the subject of the proceedings”.

Greene told us yesterday that the firm had already been involved in litigation with the former Anglo Irish Bank. The firm has been advising German bondholders of Anglo following the recent judgment in favour of one bondholder Assenagon Asset Management against the losses imposed by the bank on junior bondholders.

The firm had expertise in dealing with financial claims, he said. The court heard, however, that the firm cannot practise in the Republic of Ireland, and that they hope to hire local lawyers to help the Quinns with their case. Greene said the firm had not yet approached any Irish solicitors.

Edwin Coe will be familiar with litigation before Mr Justice Peter Kelly, who heard the latest court outing for the Quinns yesterday. The firm’s name cropped up in court earlier this year when Bank of Ireland told the judge that Edwin Coe wrote to its solicitors last January to say they were representing solicitor Brian O’Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia in the action against the bank.

Litigation relating to debt collection is generating plenty of work. Coincidentally, the O’Donnells were before Mr Justice Kelly a few hours after the Quinns, but there was no mention of Edwin Coe; another firm had come and gone since their name cropped up in that other long-running battle involving a major borrower and an Irish bank in pursuit.

You can’t be prepared to huff and puff; you have to be prepared to blow the house down - Mr Justice Kelly gives the Quinns a week to outline objections to receiver Declan Taite

Germany pays price for austerity

IT IS hard to see the silver lining in the fifth consecutive monthly decline in German business confidence. If one exists it is probably to do with the fact that the Ifo index of business sentiment is taken seriously because over time it has proven a fairly reliable indicator of German economic performance.

As a result, policy makers in Frankfurt and Berlin pay attention. In Frankfurt, it will presumably be seen as one more grain of sand tipping the scales towards another cut in interest rates, with a further cut now expected before the end of the year.

The effect in Berlin is harder to discern. It will hopefully remind German politicians – if they need reminding – that Germany cannot prosper indefinitely while the rest of Europe slumps through a combination of factors including the economic austerity that they have so enthusiastically prescribed as a cure.

It would appear that German business is well ahead of its political masters in appreciating this point. ING economist Carsten Brzeski concludes that what is worrying German business is not that the ECB has finally been allowed by Germany to try and end the crisis through unlimited bond buying.

What is worrying them, he says, is concern that that the ECB has acted so late in the day that it will take a very long time for the measures it proposes to feed through into new growth.

If that is the case, then they must accept some responsibility for the predicament they find themselves in because you would have to look pretty hard to find a German business or lobby group of any significance arguing against the Bundesbank and German popular opinion’s belief in austerity.

Twitter and LinkedIn big gainers in Irish social networking survey

IS TWITTER usage in Ireland about to reach a tipping point?

The latest quarterly report on social networking by pollsters Ipsos MRBI appears to indicate something of a surge in the proportion of Irish adults who own Twitter accounts, although sadly the research company did not indicate what prompted them to set one up – word-of-mouth from friends and family, perhaps, or the influence of the now ubiquitous programme hashtags that cross our television screens.

The survey of a sample of 1,000 adults, conducted in August, revealed that some 22 per cent had a Twitter account, up from 15 per cent in the May survey.

Indeed, over the last quarter, Twitter account ownership has increased 47 per cent, while some 39 per cent more Irish people succumbed to the rather insistent charms of LinkedIn – some 18 per cent of Irish adults have taken up the invitation to set up a LinkedIn account, compared to 13 per cent in the previous survey.

Both Twitter and LinkedIn still lag the popularity of Facebook, of course – some 56 per cent of adults have a Facebook account, up 3 percentage points since May.

Facebook is still growing.

Of course, there is always the possibility that new Twitter users are joining out of a curiosity that won’t be sustained, or merely because they use another product – such as a casual gaming app or a news site commenting function – that requires a social media login. They may not consider themselves full-time Twitterati, in other words.

Yet, such interest suggests that for companies – particularly small consumer- facing businesses that can’t afford a large marketing budget – a presence on Twitter is becoming more essential with each passing quarter.

Job hunters, or future job hunters, in what can be loosely termed as the “smart economy” sector, are also finding that a LinkedIn profile effectively serves as the modern-day business card.

The same principle applies in both cases – if you’re not on it, you don’t really exist.

Online

You can get the latest news each business day at irishtimes.com/businessor by following us on Twitter at twitter.com/IrishTimesBiz.

We also have a Facebook page at facebook.com/IrishTimesBizwhere you can read the latest business headlines, blog posts and reader polls.

Today

Irish & Life pensions conference will hear from the Secretary General of the Department of Finance, John Moran, as the Government considers major changes to Ireland’s pension regime.

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