Jim Armitage: Hourican John blows back into City with Cyprus floatComments Off on Jim Armitage: Hourican John blows back into City with Cyprus float
There’ll be plenty to talk about over the Christmas turkey for the Hourican boys. All three of the Irish brothers had careers at RBS with varying success, and now all have departed to pastures new with similar mixed results.
The highest flier was John, famous for trousering £5 million in bonus shares in 2012 when he ran RBS’s investment bank. He quit a year later, carrying the can for RBS’s role in the Libor scandal, rather nobly, I thought. That left David and Declan.
David left to set up a hedge fund in Singapore which was reportedly wound down after failing to raise enough cash from investors. And then there was one.
Declan became head of finance of RBS’s controversial Global Restructuring Group in 2008. This was the division roundly criticised in the FCA report last week into how it mistreated troubled SME customers.
He left in October to run the finances at… Tesco Bank, which a few weeks later had one of the worst UK hacking attacks in British financial history.
Now, back to the most famous brother, John. After quitting RBS, he landed another unenviable job at a bust bank, this time running the Bank of Cyprus.
Cypriots hated the organisation even more than Brits loathed RBS. But there was a difference: at the Bank of Cyprus, it was the customers who had suffered from its collapse, not taxpayers; Cyprus was an early experiment in the European concept of bank bail-ins, where depositors, rather than the state, had to fund bank rescue.
Today, two years after a fundraising including Donald Trump’s pal Wilbur Ross, Hourican has said he will float shares in the bank in London.
These days, a mere 62% of the loan book is underperforming — a legacy of Cyprus’s financial crisis. The shares traded in Cyprus are now half their price when Ross jumped in.
Never mind that: Hourican says it makes a profit and will benefit from accessing new shareholders via London.
Personally, I’d call it as risky as a punt on RBS, but what do I know? Never a dull moment for those Houricans…
BT’s crossed lines
Asked why Vodafone does so many tech innovations in Germany but not here (smart lamp-posts, anyone?), Vittorio Colao has a simple answer: BT Openreach.
BT’s monopoly network is more expensive to access than nearly every other country, he says. Service is more sluggish, too. Moving a phone number from one provider to another takes 11 days here compared with one in Spain, three in France, five in Germany.
Why? Because with a monopoly in the backbone of our telecoms network, what incentive is there to behave better?