Tullow and Power set to celebrate placing


CANTILLON:Few Irish people will be celebrating tomorrow evening after the budget, but two who will have cause to clink their glasses are Aidan Heavey and Patrick Kennedy.

Tullow Oil and Paddy Power, of which they are respectively chief executives, have been placed ninth and 19th in Management Today magazine list of Britain’s top 20 most admired companies.

The champagne will no doubt flow at the glittering awards ceremony in Claridges.

The Bmacs – as they are known – have certain cache as they are based on the votes of Britain’s largest companies who grade one another across 26 sectors and by nine different criteria ranging from “the firm’s ability to innovate and the quality of its marketing to its financial performance and the strength of its management team”.

Tullow scores well for attracting, developing and retaining top talent as well as a capacity to innovate. Paddy Power scored well for innovation and got top marks for the quality of its marketing while Tullow came second in this category.

Paddy Power scored well for financial soundness but the overwhelmingly feel is that the two companies’ strengths – as perceived by their peers – seemed to be the sort of soft business skills that the Irish are stereotypically good at, such as managing relationships. In fairness, the Irish origins of the two companies are readily acknowledged by the magazine and both qualify by dint of being listed on the London stock exchange.

Time will tell however whether they succeed in pulling off a Rory McIlroy and manage to be be both British and Irish and the same time or end up doing a Barry McGuigan who was British until he lost his title and once again became Irish.

Motor trade alarmed over budget content

As the nation awaits the Minister for Finance’s speech tomorrow, one business sector that fully expects to be the focus of unwelcome attention is the motor trade.

There is general acceptance that motorists are going to be hit with increases in vehicle registration tax (VRT) on new cars and changes to motor tax regime for everyone on the road.

Expectations are that we may see an increase in VRT equal to an average 3.5 per cent rise in the price of a new car. Any rise in VAT would add further pain.

It is also expected the motor-tax system will be adjusted again. In its submissions to the troika, the Government promised to address the slide in motor tax revenues by 2013. That deadline is upon us.

The emissions-based system introduced for new cars in July 2008 has proved to be a massive success in terms of raising awareness of emissions levels. Of the 151,444 new cars sold in 2008, 47.9 per cent had emissions below 141g/km. This year 92 per cent of the new cars sold have emissions below 141g/km. Good news for the environment: bad news for the Government coffers.

The pre-2008 system brought in an average of about €450 per car; the new, closer to €200. Whatever the plan unveiled tomorrow, motorists can expect that gap to narrow significantly.

In an effort to sweeten the pill, the Government is expected to announce a new registration system. Instead of your new car being registered as a 13-D or 13-G for example, it will be a 131-D or 131-G if purchased before July, when a second registration period will begin, bringing in 132 plates. The move neatly sidesteps fears within the trade that superstition might get the better of buyers next year. It would also address a long-held motor trade concern to even out the annual sales rush in the first quarter, where 80 per cent of new car sales occur.

Admittedly “sales rush” is not a term commonly heard in the motor trade these days. The reality is that even changing the number plate system will not lift new car sales out of the doldrums next year.

Most senior figures in the motor trade expect next year’s new car sales to total 75,000, down from 80,000 this year and 89,878 in 2011. That’s a long way from the heady days of 2007, when 186,238 new cars were sold.

Riddle of the multiple Ministers solved

How many Government Ministers does it take to announce the separation of one State-owned company from another? The answer yesterday for the announcement of the separation of Shannon Airport was four.

In a compact room at the Conference Centre Dublin, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar (right), Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton and Labour Party Ministers of State Alan Kelly and Jan O’Sullivan confirmed what was probably the worst-kept secret in Cabinet history. There were also a handful of coalition backbench TDs on hand to lend their views helpfully to the waiting media.

That it took so many Ministers to announce the move seems remarkable. Such is the nature of coalition politics. With Fine Gael holding the two senior ministry positions, Labour didn’t want to be left out, especially when there were 3,500 new jobs to be announced.

Last Tuesday, the Cabinet gave its approval to the separation of Shannon Airport from the Dublin Airport Authority and its eventual merger with Shannon Development’s land bank. But it waited until yesterday’s conference on aviation policy before confirming its plan.

Earlier, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary welcomed Shannon’s separation from the “dead hand” of the DAA but “putting it into another State entity is a bad idea”. In a nutshell, O’Leary believes the Government should privatise Shannon Airport and tell the trade unions to get stuffed. He wouldn’t be alone in that view.

Limerick TD O’Sullivan was having none of that. Playing to her union constituency, she emphasised how “glad” she was Shannon would remain in public ownership. Predictable stuff, really.

Will the plan work? The unions certainly don’t think so.

The posse of Ministers acknowledged that there are risks involved but said the status quo wasn’t an option. They are right on that score.

It will be interesting to see how many of them tog out for the media if the plan turns out to be a flop.

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