Conlon disqualified, Naturgy on the block and Lloyds pharmacies sold

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The High Court on Thursday handed down what is thought to be its longest ever director disqualification. Photograph: iStock

The High Court on Thursday handed down what is thought to be its longest ever director disqualification. Photograph: iStock

 

The High Court on Thursday handed down what is thought to be its longest ever director disqualification when it barred Peter Conlon of Pembroke Dynamic from being a director for 16 years. The judge said it was hard to conceive of a more egregious and reprehensible fraud than the one involved in the case. Aodhan O Faolain has all the details.

US pharmaceuticals group McKesson Corp has agreed to sell its Irish business, which includes the 90-outlet chain of Lloyds pharmacies and the United Drug wholesale group, writes Mark Paul. McKesson Ireland also includes TCP Homecare, which provides nurses, and Media Healthcare, which sells drugs to nursing homes.

Spanish utilities giant Naturgy Energy Group has put its Irish commercial gas and electricity supply unit up for sale, five years after acquiring the business, according to industry sources. Joe Brennan reports that Naturgy bought Dublin-based Vayu Energy in 2016.

Regulators upheld one in three complaints against energy companies last year, when bills continued to be the main source of customers’ problems, official figures show. The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU), which oversees power companies and Irish Water, said that it opened 179 investigations into “complex complaints” against energy suppliers in 2020. Barry O’Halloran has that story.

In this week’s Agenda, Colm Keena takes an in-depth look at issues surrounding buying goods from Xinjiang in China in light of campaigners’ calls for a boycott because of concerns over possible forced labour. The boycott initiative, which is strongly resisted in China, has seen some of the world’s largest clothing brands suffer sales falls in the country after they sought to respond to the ethical concerns of their consumers in the West.

Big Government is back in business, according to Mark Paul. In his Caveat column he writes that huge sections of the economy are wobbling like drunks on stilts and politicians look like the only people who can restore stability. Like it or not, this is how things will go for the foreseeable future, he argues.

In his economics column, John FitzGerald considers how differences in tax rates can affect where economic activity takes place. He notes that where economies are more globalised, there is greater scope for activity to move to avail of lower tax rates. He argues however that there is no justification for having special tax regimes for high-income individuals.

In our Work section, Olive Keogh focuses this week on stress, asking if we are dealing with it correctly in the workplace. Rather than learning to manage it, perhaps it’s better to learn how to activate our in-built recovery process, experts suggest.

This week’s Wild Goose is the illustrious Prof Adrian Hill, who had a key role in the design and discovery of the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19. A native of Ranelagh in Dublin, and alumnus of Belvedere College and Trinity College, Prof Hill has been in Oxford since transferring there in 1978. He tells Barbara McCarthy the honorary knighthood he will soon receive from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is “the icing on the cake after a very busy year”.

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