EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Digicel risks, and profits down at BAM

Business Today: the best news, analysis and comment from The Irish Times business desk

Happy man: Richard Kennedy of Devenish celebrates his victory at Thursday’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards. Photograph: Maxwells

Happy man: Richard Kennedy of Devenish celebrates his victory at Thursday’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards. Photograph: Maxwells


Richard Kennedy said he was “absolutely floored” to win the overall EY Entrepreneur of the Year award for 2019 at a ceremony in Dublin last night. The boss of agri-services group Devenish beat off extremely stiff competition for the title, and will go on to represent Ireland at the World Entrepreneur of the Year awards in Monte Carlo next year.

At the same event, Triona Mullane of Madme Technologies won the Emerging category, while Pat McDonagh of Supermac’s took home the Industry award.

Joe Brennan reports this morning that Denis O’Brien’s Digicel Group faces “imminent refinancing risk” and will have to restructure a large part of its almost $7 billion (€6.3 billion) debt pile in the next 18 months. The judgment is contained within a Fitch report on the relecoms group.

Profits at BAM Ireland, the builder of the seriously over-budget National Children’s Hospital, fell 12 per cent last year to €13.7 million, writes Barry O’Halloran. The company’s chief executive highlighted being named as the main contractor for the hospital project as one of the highlights of 2018.

In his column this week, John FitzGerald looks at how the State’s approach to poverty and inequality in Irish society has evolved through the decades to produce a system that, while often more generous than that of the UK, is still lacking on many important fronts.

Mark Paul’s Caveat considers the many issues facing RTÉ, and considers a few steps that might be taken towards addressing them. He has concerns, however, about the idea of media companies being saved by politicians bearing cheques.

Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Republic jumped by 75 per cent to $142 million (€128 million) in the first six months of the year, but is it all good news? Charlie Taylor goes about answering this thorny question in our Business Agenda section, considering particularly the role of the Chinese Communist Party in the whole picture.

This week’s Business Interview is with Joanna Murphy of Taxback.com, who tells Dominic Coyle how a chance meeting on an escalator led her to the top of the company that will probably be familiar to anybody who has spent a J1 summer in the US or worked their way around Australia.

And finally, what kind of a mood is your boss in today, and does she or he realise what a big impact that can have on the bottom line? Olive Keogh explains in our Work section that positive emotional leadership leads to success, while a cranky boss can create “a toxic organisation of negative underachievers”.

Stay up to date with all our business news: sign up to our business news alerts and our Business Today daily email news digest