Asian crisis puts brake on Smurfit shares


The Asian crisis was continuing to have a dampening effect on the Smurfit share price, the chairman of the group, Dr Michael Smurfit, said yesterday. At the Irish inception of the international Entrepreneur of the Year awards, in conjunction with Ernst & Young, Dr Smurfit said that a more positive mood would emerge in the marketplace once the turnaround occurred in the Asian economies. The shares fell earlier in January and have continued to trade around 200p, closing at 198p yesterday.

"All commodities have had a very serious decline in prices. We are just part of that phenomenon. Once the Asian crisis passes the climate will improve," he said.

Dr Smurfit said that Ireland needed risk-takers more than ever to form companies which would form a counter balance to the foreign investment division.

He added that entrepreneurship should not be seen solely in terms of a single person in a wholly owned company but included managers willing to challenge and adopt to circumstances.

Ireland has become the 13th country to host the Entrepreneur of the Year awards after they were launched in the US in 1986. Mr John Hogan, a managing partner at Ernst & Young, said the objective was to extend the competition to 30 countries by 2002.

Owners or managers of businesses, including public companies, which are at least two years old are eligible, and nominations are invited from company advisers, employees, entrepreneurs and the public. Awards are granted to winners in three categories - `Emerging Entrepreneur', `Entrepreneur of the Year' and `Master Entrepreneur' - who will then be recognised at an international ceremony in Palm Springs, California, in November.

Mr Joe Devine, the director of the entrepreneur programme at Ernst & Young, said that he was looking for people who saw the opportunity in every product and who did not take `no' for an answer.