Cantillon: Is the grass any greener on the other side?
“We are very happy where we are.” That was the reply yesterday of Ian Curley, the chief financial office of Smurfit Kappa, when asked whether it planned to shift its main listing from Dublin to London – a la mode for corporate Ireland.
One would not be surprised if Curley’s words of commitment were greeted down at the Stock Exchange in Temple Bar with cheers and a round of applause. Hell, they might even venture a few yards down the cobbles towards Oliver St John Gogarty’s, pictured, to celebrate with a €7.15 pint.
The Irish Stock Exchange badly needs Smurfit Kappa. The paper and packaging giant, though successful, has never been considered a “sexy” company. To a beleaguered Dublin exchange that has lost titans DCC, United Drug and Greencore in recent years, Smurfit Kappa is currently the hottest bit of fluff in town.
Smurfit released financial results yesterday at the same time as DCC, which posted interims for the first time since it made the move across the Irish Sea. This morning, another of the corporate wild geese, Grafton, will also release its third quarter figures.
So is the grass on the other side (of the Irish Sea) any greener than the green, green grass of home?
Tommy Breen, DCC’s chief executive, seemed chuffed yesterday when asked about the move. “We wanted more coverage from international brokers. That’s why we made the move,” he said. “When we made the move, we had one international analyst covering us, now we have six. We hope to grow that by more over coming weeks and months.”
But listening in to Smurfit Kappa’s analysts’ conference call yesterday, its Dublin listing doesn’t appear to be holding it back. It was striking how many questions its executives were asked by analysts with heavy European accents, representing some of the Continent’s biggest financial institutions.
Let’s hope it keeps the home fires burning, for corporate Dublin’s sake.