This week



More bang for Buckley

Forget about Anglo: The Musical. Independent News & Media has provided enough boardroom drama in the last year to justify its own Sky Atlantic mini-series.

In the latest twist, a cast member written out of the media group’s script last summer looks set to return.

In June 2011, Leslie Buckley suffered the ignominy of becoming the first director of a mainstream Irish listed company to be voted off the board by shareholders. Buckley had been one of Denis O’Brien’s nominees to the board of INM since 2009.

Buckley may have been down, but he was not out. In an interview with The Irish Times earlier this year, he was asked if he thought he’d ever sit on the media group’s board again.

“I haven’t really given it any thought, but I never say never,” he said.

Chances are he’s giving it plenty of thought this week. At an extraordinary general meeting in Dublin’s Conrad Hotel today, Buckley (along with three others – Jerome Kennedy, Triona Mullane and Len O’Hagan) is up for election to INM’s board.

The EGM follows what can only be described as a chaotic period for the group, stemming from the powerplay between rival factions – Denis O’Brien’s camp versus Anthony O’Reilly’s tribe – which has seen chief executive Gavin O’Reilly and chairman James Osbourne ousted in a boardroom coup. The question is: will O’Brien’s loyal lieutenant succeed in making a triumphant return? Tune in today to find out.

FBD profits under the weather

Back in May, when FBD issued its interim management statement, the insurance company was on track to beat its previous year’s performance (and expectations), as operating profit in its underwriting business was ahead of 2011. But then came the floods.

Goodbody stockbrokers estimates the June floods in the south of the country will cost in the region of €1-€1.5 million, net of reinsurance. As a result, it is forecasting an improvement in FBD’s underwriting profit of just 2 per cent for the first half of the year.

When the insurer issues those results tomorrow, Goodbody expects to see some improvement in the core claims ratio, but this may well be offset by a rise in the number of larger weather-related claims. The brokerage also says the group is likely to make an exceptional provision for its investment in Bloxham Stockbrokers, which went into liquidation in the latter part of quarter two. Fortunately for FBD, it was a limited partner in the business, so it has no exposure to liabilities at Bloxham arising from its closure.

Magic's had its moment on eBay

Looking for an animal communicator to carry out a pet psychic reading? Or perhaps you’re in the market for a customised conjured spirit? Maybe you just want to buy an off-the-shelf Haitian voodoo spell?

Unfortunately we’ve got some bad news. Come Thursday, it’s going to get a whole lot harder to get your hands on witchcraft essentials, as eBay is banning the sale of a whole raft of “metaphysical” items such as magic spells, hexes, potions and psychic readings.

Until now the metaphysical listings on the world’s largest online marketplace have made TV3s Psychic Readings Live look positively scientific. At the time of writing, you could bid on a “powerful money and wealth spell” for just $7.84; a gryphon spell was a little steeper at $24.99, but it does, after all, allow you to communicate with spirits and other astral beings, so perhaps it’s a bargain.

So why is the site cracking down on magicians and psychics – some of whom are presumably making a tidy income through eBay – by discontinuing certain metaphysical items?

“Transactions in these categories often result in issues between the buyer and seller that are difficult to resolve,” eBay says. Seems fair enough. After all, how can you prove if a spell has been delivered or not?

Fans of the occult aren’t taking this act of corporate oppression lying down. Already more than 1,500 witches, wiccans, pagans, new-agers and tarot card readers have signed a “Don’t ban our psychics” petition.

Surprised they didn’t see it coming.