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Goodbody seeks permanent MD in time for AIB’s €138m takeover

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Goodbody Stockbrokers has been told by the Central Bank to have a permanent managing director selected by the time its €138 million takeover by AIB is completed.

This has prompted senior executive Brian O’Kelly, who was being lined up to take on the role of interim managing director as the deal is concluded, to reveal internally in recent days that he plans to leave the stockbroking and wealth management firm once it goes through, according to sources.

It is expected that the purchase will be finalised later this year, subject to regulatory approvals.

Goodbody’s long-standing managing director, Roy Barrett, had already told staff early last month, as the planned transaction was announced, that he would be stepping down as the purchase is completed.

It is understood that AIB has already quietly commenced a search for a permanent managing director for Goodbody, which is expected to look at both external and internal candidates at the bank. Mr O’Kelly, currently co-head of investment banking at the firm, has told AIB that he would not be putting his name forward for consideration, the sources said.

AIB’s chief executive, Colin Hunt, is intent on integrating Goodbody more fully into the banking group – creating more synergies between both – than when the firm was previously owned by the bank for 21 years until early 2011. Mr Hunt was a previous chief economist at Goodbody.

Spokesmen for Goodbody and AIB and a spokeswoman for the Central Bank declined to comment.

Stake

Mr Barrett is set to receive about €10.6 million from the sale of his 7.7 per cent stake in Goodbody to AIB, while Mr O’Kelly is poised to get €4.5 million. Goodbody’s 51 per cent owner, Kerry-based financial services group Fexco, will receive all of the €70.4 million it is due on the completion of the deal.

However, management and staff, who own the remainder, will receive an upfront payment of only 60 per cent, with the balance payable over two subsequent years, according to sources. Mr Barrett and Mr O’Kelly are the two biggest staff shareholders.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and Central Bank will each have to approve a deal. Any permanent managing director will have to go through a necessary fitness and probity assessment with regulators.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe signed off on the takeover deal last month to allow Goodbody to continue to pay bonuses to staff, even as its parent will remain subject to an effective ban on variable pay across bailed-out Irish banks.

The deal also envisages 30 AIB corporate finance and wealth management staff transferring to Goodbody Stockbrokers by the end of next year and benefitting from the brokerage’s variable pay policy.

Mr Donohoe said at the time that the staff transfers were necessary for AIB and Goodbody to generate “significant synergies”. However, he said that safeguards are being built into the transaction to ensure that it does not otherwise become a way of getting around bonus restrictions that apply to banks.

Davy deal

Goodbody’s larger peer, Davy, was also put up for sale last month as the firm seeks to rebuild trust in the business and address concerns about former senior executives involved in a bond deal scandal in 2014 remaining as major shareholders.

Bank of Ireland, which owned the majority of Davy between 1988 and 2006, is seen as the most likely acquirer of the business.

Davy has been grappling since early last month with the fallout from a €4.1 million Central Bank fine and reprimand. The firm breached market rules by failing to identify whether a conflict of interest existed as 16 of its employees, including top executives, bought junior bonds in Anglo Irish Bank from a client in November 2014 without disclosing that they were the buyers.

The regulator also found that Davy kept its own compliance officials in the dark on the deal.

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Orange warning in place for five counties on west coast

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Violent storm force 11 winds are expected off the west coast as Storm Barra approaches on Tuesday morning.

Met Éireann has upgraded its marine weather warning to red, the highest category, on Irish coastal waters from Galway Bay to Bantry Bay from 3am on Tuesday morning to 11pm tomorrow night.

A status orange warning is in place on land for the counties of Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am on Tuesday morning until the same time on Wednesday morning.

Counties included in orange warning could see damaging gusts of up to 130km/h which will head to high waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge.

The rest of the country will be under a status yellow warning for the same period with the possibility of localised flooding.

Met Éireann head of forecasting Evelyn Cusack told Newstalk Breakfast that the storm system is developing rapidly over the Atlantic at present and will hit Ireland’s western seaboard on Tuesday with strong gale force winds which will quickly extend across the country.

There will be heavy rain turning to sleet and snow on higher ground, she warned.

Met Éireann will meet with gardaí, local authorities and emergency services this morning to update the progress of the storm and provide advice on what precautionary measures should be taken.

“It will be a pretty horrid day,” added Ms Cusack who advised against cycling.

The high winds and heavy rain will continue throughout Wednesday but they will have moved on by Thursday.

On RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, senior meteorologist Liz Walsh warned that trees could be knocked down during the high winds. She also advised that outdoor street furniture should be taken in or tied down and cautioned that Christmas decorations could be damaged.

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Coronavirus rules for driving tests spark complaints

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Claims of rude testers, of not being allowed to cough and having to drive with windows open due to Covid-19 were among the complaints received from people who failed driving tests recently.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA), which oversees driving tests nationally, released a sample of the 1,505 complaints received since the start of last year under the Freedom of Information Act.

New figures show the driving test centre in Cork had the highest pass rate with 75 per cent of people passing, while the lowest was Charlestown in Dublin with a 42 per cent pass rate.

One person complained he had told his tester he had asthma and might need to cough because he had recently changed inhalers, causing irritation to his throat.

“I was advised that if I coughed at any stage, the test would be over immediately. This was difficult to control while under exam pressure and added a huge amount of unnecessary stress and pressure,” the individual complained.

Another individual complained their tester said if their face mask slipped “a little bit from my nose” while driving, the test would be ended.

“I’m in shock how he treated me that day,” said the complainant.

Another learner driver who failed said their car was hot and “very uncomfortable” because the tester said the hot air de-misters had to be kept on to prevent the windows fogging up because the back windows had to be kept open due to Covid-19.

One complainant said the tester seemed to have prejudged the test when they spotted a small stain on the driver’s seat as the car was supposed to be “spotless”.

‘Anxious’

“The tester was clearly taking it too far. I was complying with all Covid precautions as I had just Hoovered and sanitised the car and it was simply a mark on the seat.”

There were general complaints beyond Covid-19 issues. One person complained about feeling “anxious” because the tester was “sitting there shaking his head”.

Another said their tester repeatedly shook his head and sighed several times, and then made notes on the score sheet, which was “extremely off-putting and really unfair”.

Another driver said the tester was “extremely condescending and patronising” and mocked their answer to a signpost theory question about an “unguarded cliff edge”.

“We don’t drive along cliff edges in this country,” the tester was quoted as saying.

The RSA has been dealing with a backlog of driving tests due to the pandemic.

The centres with the next highest pass rates were Clifden (71 per cent), Killester in Dublin (70 per cent), Birr, Co Offaly (70 per cent) and Cavan (69 per cent).

The test centres with the next lowest pass rates were Dublin’s Churchtown, since closed (44 per cent), Nenagh, Co Tipperary (44 per cent) and Mulhuddart (45 per cent) and Raheny (46 per cent), both in Dublin.


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Former US presidential candidate Bob Dole dies aged 98

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Bob Dole, the long-time Kansas senator who was the Republican nominee for president in 1996, has died from lung cancer. In a statement, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, founded by Dole’s wife, said: “It is with heavy hearts we announced that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died earlier this morning in his sleep. At his death at age 98 he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years.”

In late February, Dole announced that he had advanced lung cancer and would begin treatment. Visiting him, President Joe Biden called Dole his “close friend”.

On Sunday the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, like Biden a Democrat, ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

Born in Russell, Kansas in 1923, Dole served in the US infantry in the second world war, suffering serious wounds in Italy and winning a medal for bravery.

His wounds cost him use of his right arm but he entered state politics and soon became a longtime Republican power-broker, representing Kansas in the US House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969 and in the Senate until 1996. He had spells as chairman of the Republican National Committee and as Senate minority and majority leader.

In 1976 he was the Republican nominee for vice-president to Gerald Ford, in an election the sitting president lost to Jimmy Carter. Two decades later, aged 73, Dole won the nod to take on Bill Clinton.

Against the backdrop of a booming economy, the Democrat won a second term with ease, by 379 – 159 in the electoral college and by nine points in the popular vote, the third-party candidate Ross Perot costing Dole support on the right.

Dole received both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honours.

In the Trump years and after, Dole came widely to be seen as a figure from another time in Republican politics.

On Sunday, the political consultant Tara Setmeyer, a member of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, tweeted: “I cast my first ever vote for president for Bob Dole in 1996. A war hero with a sharp sense of humor ? another piece of a once respectable GOP gone.”

However, Dole remained a loyal Republican soldier, telling USA Today this summer that though Donald Trump “lost the election, and I regret that he did, but they did”, and though he himself was “sort of Trumped out”, he still considered himself “a Trumper”.

Dole called Biden “a great, kind, upstanding, decent person”, though he said he leaned too far left.

He also said: “I do believe [America has]lost something. I can’t get my hand on it, but we’re just not quite where we should be, as the greatest democracy in the world. And I don’t know how you correct it, but I keep hoping that there will be a change in my lifetime.”

On Sunday, Jaime Harrison, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said: “Sending heartfelt condolences and prayers to the family of Senator Bob Dole. We honor his service and dedication to the nation. May he Rest In Peace.”

– Guardian

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