KBC staff worries, Boris’s Brexit plan and O’Leary’s big day

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

A clear picture of what lies ahead? Boris Johnson surveys his audience at the Pendulum event on Thursday. Photograph: Getty

A clear picture of what lies ahead? Boris Johnson surveys his audience at the Pendulum event on Thursday. Photograph: Getty


KBC Bank Ireland’s main union has urged the group’s Belgian parent to address concerns over staff safety following recent arson attacks on Irish branches, reports Joe Brennan. The move comes in the wake of events following the eviction of a Roscommon family from a house and farm before Christmas.

Still in banking, Joe also reports on good news for most of AIB’s 10,000-strong workforce, who are in line for a 3 per cent pay rise this year.

Mark Paul spent some time this week at Pendulum , which he describes as “a chicken soup for the business soul-style motivational jamboree”. In his Caveat column, he drills down into what the event in the Convention Centre Dublin is actually about, noting that Bono is everywhere, even when he isn’t.

He also reports on an appearance by former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who outlined his plan to avoid WTO tariffs in a no-deal Brexit, and once again claimed technology could allow a hard Border to be avoided.

Paddy Power and Aryzta chairman Gary McGann was at Pendulum too, where he candidly acknowledged that the board of Anglo Irish Bank, which included himself, was “not up for the job”.

In Agenda this week, we take an in-depth look at Michael O’Leary, who is celebrating his 25th year as chief executive of Ryanair. Barry O’Halloran identifies the strengths that have kept the combative businessman in the role for so long and describes what exactly a Ryanair “flame grill” might mean.

Barry also reports on a planning application to build more than 260 apartments for rent on the site of the old Dulux Paints factory in Drimnagh on the southside of Dublin.

The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School did well out of distributions from the American Ireland Funds in 2017, writes Gordon Deegan, who has trawled US tax documentation returned by the philanthropic organisation. Other beneficiaries included exclusive Limerick boys’ school, Glenstal Abbey.

John FitzGerald has some advice for those planning major State infrastructure projects, such as the National Children’s Hospital or airport Metro, urging them to consider cost over style. “It is so often the case that the best is the enemy of the good,” he advises.

This week’s Business Interview is Roscommon native John Stapleton, the inventor of fresh soup via the New Covent Garden Soup Company in the mid-1980s, who has since moved on to a portfolio of other food interests. Like many in his sector, he is more than a little worried about UK preparations for Brexit.

For those of you with itchy career feet this January, Olive Keogh writes that changing your job in 2019 is likely to bag you a bigger salary, a development that would obviously not be good news for employers.

Olive also speaks to Massachusetts-based Dubliner Eric Mosley, who in 1999 founded social employee recognition company Globoforce. The company now has turnover of $500 million, with Mosley explaining that he spends much of his time in transit between work locations.

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