Seen & Heard


Fitzwilton’s slumpFitzwilton, the investment vehicle of Sir Anthony O’Reilly, slumped to a loss last year, according to the Sunday Business Post.

The group reported a loss of €1.1 million before tax last year compared to a €350,000 profit in 2010 as turnover dipped about 10 per cent to €32.7 million in what it said were “extremely challenging economic conditions prevailing in Ireland and Britain”.

O’Reilly owns the company with his brother-in-law Peter Goulandris.

The paper reported that the operating profit of the main investment of Fitzwilton, road signage company Rennicks, tumbled 82 per cent last year.

Portfolio Design Group International, an investment adviser and trader in life policies, in which Fitzwilton has a 36 per cent stake, moved further into the red with a loss of £599,000, more than double the amount reported in 2010.

On the upside, the value of its holding in Providence Resources more than trebled to €1.2 million last year.

McNamara bankrupt in UK

Bernard McNamara, one of the most spectacular losers in the collapse of the Irish property market, has been declared bankrupt in Britain, the Sunday Business Post and Sunday Independent reported.

McNamara petitioned the British courts on November 2nd for bankruptcy, the papers report, citing the British insolvency service.

The developer provided addresses in both west London and on Dublin’s Ailesbury Road in the paperwork for the application.

He was one of the best-known developers in the State during the Celtic Tiger years and owned several major hotels. McNamara, who has reported debts of €1.5 billion to Nama and banks, is best known for the disastrous Irish Glass Bottle site deal in Ringsend, where he and a group of investors paid €426 million for what is still a derelict site.

The bankruptcy comes two years after Nama put his family’s construction company, Michael McNamara Co, into receivership.

‘Heroic’ financial officials

Documents released after a protracted Freedom of Information process show former Central Bank governor John Hurley describing the role of senior officials in the run-up to the disastrous bank guarantee as “heroic”, according to the Sunday Independent.

The paper says the Department of Finance has only released the documents now after a two-year battle.

The documents show Hurley backed the guarantee.

However, the documents covering interviews with the Wright commission as part of its investigation into the failure of the Department of Finance to prevent or manage the financial crisis, report him criticising social partnership and admitting that the then government spent money and dealt with trade unions “at the edge of prudence” during his time at the helm of the Central Bank.

The report also notes that the department can find no record of what its then secretary general, Kevin Cardiff, thought as the crisis unfolded.