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Noonan jettisons his banking shares just before they rocket



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While finance minister Michael Noonan is gearing up to sell Allied Irish Banks shares to retail investors with more than €10,000, he is altogether less keen to have his own money tied up in bank shares.

Noonan’s latest disclosure in the Oireachtas register of members’ interests — which lists all his investments worth more than €7,000 in 2016 — shows that he sold off a stack of investments before the stock markets began to rocket upwards last year.

In fairness, the canny Limerick TD eschewed individual stocks and scored healthy double-digit returns from a plethora of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These funds track the performance of stock markets, commodities or different types of companies.

For example, the minister’s punt on the FTSE ETF delivered 18% in 2016. His ISEQ 20 ETF investment was a bit of a dog, shedding a couple of percent.

He also discarded a few jewels in a clean-out of his portfolio at the end of 2015. None more so than the KBW Bank ETF, which tracks shares in large European and American banks. It promptly soared by 33%. Ouch.

Bizquip boss needs wedge

Bizquip founder Jim Leyden is the incoming club captain at Sir Michael Smurfit’s exclusive K Club in Kildare, where membership costs €7,595 a year on top of a €20,000 joining fee. Coming up short is a danger in the game of golf and it’s an area where Leyden could probably up his game.

Equipment supply company Bizquip made a €925,000 settlement for the under-declaration of PAYE and pay-related social insurance last year, and also on foot of an offshore assets investigation. Leyden made a separate €275,000 settlement for the under-declaration of income tax as part of a Revenue offshore assets investigation.

Top gloss boost for beauty chain makeover

Actress Huberman is one of the backers of Oslo

Lawyer James Osborne has emerged as a backer of the swish Oslo beauty chain, lobbing in €100,000 for a small stake last year.

The high-end beauty salon business, set up by Travel Department founder Bob Haugh and former IBI financier Clive Kilmurray, also counts actress Amy Huberman and rugby players Brian O’Driscoll and Rob Kearney as backers. Haugh, Niamh Garvey and Geraldine McHugh put in €500,000 last year.

The support of Osborne, a director of Ryanair and a former chairman of INM, is quite a coup. Kilmurray and Osborne were both appointed to the board of book retailer Eason back in 2010. They are also on the board of Cove Capital, a private-equity outfit of former Anglo Irish Bank director and Dublin Docklands Development Authority chairman Lar Bradshaw.

On the tobacco road to riches

Former Bank of Ireland governor Richard Burrows seems to be bulletproof. Chairing the bank as it nearly went down the plughole following insane levels of lending to developers has not hindered his career one bit.

After apologising his way out of the bank, he landed the plum job of chairman of British American Tobacco, one of the world’s biggest cigarette companies. It’s lucrative stuff, too.

Last year, he was paid far more than Bank of Ireland’s very full-time chief executive Richie Boucher, trousering €861,000 in pay and perks for a couple of days a week selling fags. This included a chauffeur-driven car at a cost of €79,000, a €16,000 healthcare package, more than €10,300 in hotels, and nearly €9,200 worth of flights to commute from his Dublin home.

I gather he also got €6,900 worth of “home and personal security in the UK and Ireland” — alarming for those Bank of Ireland shareholders who saw shares fall from a 2007 peak of €18.70 to 24c.

Shannon’s Fahy likes to back a winner

Shannon Homes developer Frank Fahy didn’t go wild in the boom. The company sat on €46m in folding stuff at the end of last year.

I’m told that Fahy is expanding his bloodstock interests. He’s the new squire of Gerrardstown stud in Meath. It was built up by Joe Higgins, the Connacht squash player who made a mint when selling his bespoke computer cabinet manufacturer for €60m in the 1990s before going into property.

Fahy’s son Donie runs the bloodstock operations. In 2012 Donie won the Mongol Derby, a 1,000-mile horse race across inhospitable terrain and one of the world’s toughest challenges. Squirting out a few Group One winners should be a doddle.

Barbecue stake fires up empire

Emma Maye, daughter of the late Liam Maye, who ran Castlethorn Construction with Joe O’Reilly and helped create the Dundrum shopping centre, is rapidly developing her own empire. She has taken a big stake in Shane Mitchell’s snazzy barbecue restaurant Asador off Baggot street.

Mitchell already has some interesting backers including former Champion Sports owner John Quinn, who has raised a stack of money from the Smurfits and serial tech investor Barry Maloney for Jobbio, an online recruitment outfit. He also has an interest in the Dawson Brasserie in the old La Stampa venue on Dawson Street.

Maye’s Ardale group is trundling into the housebuilding space, having acquired enough land for 1,000 homes in Dublin and Wicklow. With husband and financier Alan Hegarty, former Salesforce executive Maye is also working on food-led retail schemes, including a €25m development beside the vast Clarehall shopping centre near Coolock. Might be space for a swanky barbecue joint there, too.

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