Who are the contenders for ‘Irish Times’ Business Person of the Year?

We profile four more contenders for inaugural ‘Business Person of the Year’ award

From developing cutting-edge virtual-reality technology to steering the stock exchange, here we profile another four of the winners of The Irish Times Business Person of the Month award ahead of an annual gala awards night in May.

The monthly award, run 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.

In May, the Business Person of the Year will be chosen from the monthly winners by an independent panel of judges. The winner of the March award will be announced on April 6th.

Stock exchange chief

Deirdre Somers, chief executive of the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE), was the recipient of the award for November.


She and her team moved after the Brexit vote to reassess its long-prized independence and entered a deal at the end of November to be acquired by Euronext, the pan-European stock market operator spanning France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and the UK.

The €158.8 million transaction delivered a second major windfall in under four years for the company’s stockbroker owners: Davy, Goodbody, Investec, Cantor Fitzgerald and Campbell O’Connor. The shareholders shared a €27.5 million pot in 2014 under a group restructuring.

Somers, who has been with the ISE for more than two decades and has been chief executive for the past 10 years, was instrumental in turning it from a peripheral cash equities exchange into the world’s leading hub for the listing of debt securities and funds.

The opportunities from Brexit – including the prospect of luring London-based companies to take out a dual listing in Dublin, as well as building out the ISE’s key debt and fund listings business – were clear to the ISE following the UK referendum last year.

Serial tech entrepreneur

There was a belated Christmas present for Clavis Insight chief executive Garry Moroney the following month after he won the December award.

Moroney is a serial tech entrepreneur who became known to the public when Similarity Systems, the company he co-founded with Brian Caulfield, was sold to Informatica for $55 million in 2006.

He hit the jackpot again in December with the sale of Clavis to Ascential for an initial cash consideration of $119 million (€100 million). However, the total potential consideration, which includes earn-out payments, was capped at $219 million.

Founded in Dublin in 2008 by Moroney, Clavis employs about 170 people, including 100 in Dublin.

It has developed proprietary technology that enables firms in the consumer goods space to automatically perform an online in-store audit of their products. Customers include many of the world’s largest consumer product giants, including Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Nestlé, Mondelez and and L’Oréal.

Ascential paid top dollar for Clavis but it expects big things from the company given the high levels of recurring revenues it earns. The company has forecast sales of $17 million last year and expects to break even in 2018.

Moroney and other senior managers will remain with Clavis through 2020 to oversee the integration of the company with Ascential’s One Click Retail business, and will run the new joint entity from Dublin.

Total Produce chairman

A $300 million deal was behind the decision to bestow the award upon Total Produce chairman Carl McCann in January.

A founder of Total Produce in 2006, McCann was a key figure behind the deal to acquire an initial 45 per cent stake in Dole Foods in the United States, one of the largest producers of fruit and vegetables in the world.

For the 12 months ended October 7th, 2017, Dole generated revenue and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $4.5 billion (€3.7 billion) and $237 million respectively. The transaction consideration implies a Dole enterprise value of about $2 billion.

The $300 million cash transaction came to fruition late in the month with Total Produce expected to exercise its right to purchase all the shares in Dole within five years.

To help fund the deal, Total Produce successfully placed 63 million new ordinary shares with investors, raising gross proceeds of €145 million. This represented 19 per cent of the total issued share capital of the company prior to the placing.

The deal is subject to certain regulatory approvals, which are expected by the middle of this year. But it has the potential to be transformational for the Irish listed company.

Randox Laboratories managing director

The managing director of Northern Ireland-based Randox Laboratories, Dr Peter FitzGerald, scooped the prize for February.

Randox was established by FitzGerald in 1982, and remains privately owned. It employs more than 1,400 people and has manufacturing, and research and development operations in Antrim, Donegal, India and the United States.

FitzGerald received the award after the company announced plans to invest £50 million (€56.5 million) to establish three new centres of excellence in the North that will focus on diagnosing life-threatening conditions and infectious diseases.

Scientists from the Antrim-headquartered group, which specialises in healthcare diagnostics, will work collaboratively with researchers and scientists from both Queen's University and Ulster University in the new centres.

These will focus on clinical diagnostics, engineering for biosciences, and quality control to deliver early diagnostics for a range of conditions.

Randox has an established track record in the development of diagnostic tests to identify those at risk of certain illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease or genetic cardiac conditions. It has also launched a new clinically-approved test to diagnose pre-diabetes.

It is estimated that each year 5 per cent of the world’s population – more than 370 million people in 145 countries – receive a health diagnosis via a product manufactured by Randox.

Just one other monthly winner remains to be announced before the awards night in May. The winner of the Business Person of the Month for March will be announced on April 6th in The Irish Times.