Who are the contenders for ‘Irish Times’ Business Person of the Year?
Six Business Person of the Month winners are profiled ahead of awards night in May
Glanbia managing director Siobhán Talbot was named Irish Times Business Person of the Month in May. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan.
From multibillion-euro acquisitions to bold stock-market flotations and big pay days, the first six winners of this year’s Irish Times Business Person of the Month Awards make up some of our most accomplished business leaders.
The monthly award, in association with KPMG, is designed to mark excellence and outstanding achievement in the field, and is open to business people at home and abroad as well as international executives leading major companies in the Republic.
Here we profile the winners for the first six months ahead of an annual gala awards night in May where the Business Person of the Year will be chosen from the monthly winners by an independent panel of judges.
The inaugural award in May went to Glanbia managing director Siobhán Talbot (53) for her efforts in overseeing a deal to spin off the company’s Irish dairy and agribusiness operation into a joint venture called Glanbia Ireland.
The company’s main shareholder, Glanbia Co-operative Society, became the majority owner of this new entity. This was seen as a major achievement following a previous failed attempt to sell the business to the co-op in 2010.
Glanbia was formed out of the 1997 merger of the Republic’s two largest dairy co-operatives, Avonmore Foods and Waterford Foods. It concentrates on its higher-margin nutrition business, which makes and sells protein shakes and bars, and its Glanbia Nutritionals US cheddar cheese and value-added protein ingredients division.
It was all about AIB in June as the State-owned bank returned to the main stock markets in Dublin and London following a 6½-year hiatus. Bernard Byrne, the bank’s chief executive, was rewarded for his leadership role in the share sale.
The float took months of careful preparation and planning by both the Government and the bank as Byrne and other senior executives in AIB travelled the world to explain its investment story.
The success of the initial public offering (IPO) resulted in a cheque for €3.4 billion for the State, which reduced its holding in AIB to 71 per cent. It was the biggest flotation of the year in Europe.
Byrne is an accountant by training, and joined AIB in 2010 as group chief financial officer before later leading the bank’s retail, business and corporate segments. He was appointed chief executive in May 2015.
Another flotation was behind the July winner as Cairn Homes joined the Irish Stock Exchange. This was two years after it became the first Irish homebuilder to trade on the London market.
Cairn’s chief executive, Michael Stanley, took the prize after the company was deemed to have made sufficient progress for admittance to the main market without the normal requirement of at least a three-year financial record.
The company also concluded the €107.5 million purchase of nearly nine acres of land at broadcaster RTÉ’s campus in Donnybrook in Dublin 4. The company sold almost €52 million of new shares to partly fund the deal, bringing to more than €720 million the amount of equity it had raised in a little more than two years, including its €440 million IPO.
Stanley, his brother Kevin and fellow founding investor Alan McIntosh received almost €62 million worth of shares in July under the company’s so-called founder shares incentive scheme.
The programme entitled the trio to 20 per cent of total shareholder returns over seven years after the IPO, subject to the share price achieving a 12.5 per cent compound annual growth rate of return.
The plan was used during the flotation to give the directors some upside for committing assets and investment to the company at the time of the transaction, rather than taking money off the table in June 2015.
It was a family affair in August as Dan and Linda Kiely, the founders of Cork-based business process outsourcing firm Voxpro, won the award for the sale of the company they established more than two decades ago.
The sale to Canadian outsourcing giant Telus International was estimated to be worth close to €150 million, resulting in a bumper pay day for the founders, who largely self-financed the business.
The company, which started out with six people working above a pub on Marlboro Street in Cork city in 2002, offers customer experience, technical support and sales operations solutions to international customers.
Still headquartered in Cork, the company now has offices in Dublin, California, Georgia, Romania and the Philippines.
September’s award was marked by a multibillion-dollar deal as building materials company CRH agreed to buy Ash Grove Cement, the US’s fifth-largest cement company.
Albert Manifold, the company’s chief executive, scooped the award following the $3.5 billion (€2.9 billion) acquisition. The buyout was financed through CRH’s existing financial resources.
The deal came about just weeks after CRH sold its lower-margin Americas distribution business for $2.63 billion, having cited an inability to secure market leadership in this segment.
Based in Kansas, Ash Grove is the last major independent cement manufacturer in the US, operating eight plants. The deal brought CRH’s North America cement capacity to 13.3 million tonnes from 5.3 million previously.
Portwest acquired its second business in Australia in October, spending almost €10 million to buy a family business in Melbourne. The deal was expected to more than double its turnover in Australia and New Zealand to between €20 million and €25 million.
That would amount to about 10 per cent of the group’s business and came just months after it spent €7.5 million on Prime Mover Workwear, its first acquisition in Australia.
Hughes, who is the third generation of the family to run the Westport-based business that was established in 1904, works alongside his brothers Cathal and Owen.
He also announced plans in October for a new €10 million headquarters in Mayo. The group, which employs 2,100 people worldwide – including 150 in Westport – and exports to 110 countries, has been growing sales at 30 per cent a year.
The family also owns the four-star Hotel Westport and the Westport House, an 18th-century mansion.
The remaining monthly award winners will be profiled on April 2nd