By Harry Keaney
The governor of Oklahoma, Frank Keating, recently lauded the management of the Irish economy, saying it holds many lessons for states in the U.S.
Keating and a team of officials from Oklahoma were in Ireland recently to take a firsthand look at the Irish economy. During their time in Ireland they met with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and representatives of several state agencies.
Keating said underdeveloped states should study the Republic of Ireland’s low corporation tax regime and its emphasis on education.
However, Keating said the Republic faced a major challenge in updating its infrastructure and reducing traffic congestion. He felt one possible solution would be the widespread tolling of roads, which has been a success in Oklahoma, where many motorists have tolls charged to their credit cards.
Keating said there were several similarities between Oklahoma and the Republic of Ireland. "They are both moving from being agricultural-based economies and both have approximately the same population," he said.
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The millennium entrepreneur fund is a new program promoted by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Trade and Technology Board, to provide early-stage risk seed capital to highly skilled individuals or teams. Enterprise Ireland is now seeking people who have identified a technology-based high growth potential new business. For information, call Nick Mernagh at (212) 546-0475.
The Irish central bank has closed three unauthorized investment firms since August using new powers granted under the Investment Intermediaries Act. The three firms, which had administrative offices in Dublin, were a Spanish investment company, a firm established in the Caribbean and operated from Belgium, and a U.S. registered company. The central bank took action against the U.S. firm after it became aware that the company was trying to remove $1 million in clients’ money from an Irish bank to a foreign-based institution.
Bord Fáilte appointment
Bord Fáilte has appointed Niamh Fitzpatrick as general manager, international markets. She previously worked with John Player & Sons as marketing manager.
For services rendered
Allied Irish Bank and Merrill Lynch are to get the bulk of £40 million set aside in the Irish government’s estimates for work in relation to the sale of shares in Telecom Éireann. The £40 million will be divided between AIB and Merrill Lynch as the lead bankers and advisers.
Bank of Ireland has reported a half-year performance showing a doubling of profits to £507 million. The figures were boosted by the sale of its stake in the U.S. Citizens Financial group earlier this year, which realized £172.4 million.
Euro stock exchange
The Irish stock exchange will be part of any pan-European stock market that may emerge from current discussions between officials of the bigger European markets, the managing director of the Irish stock exchange, Tom Healy, said. He added that a pan-European exchange was likely to include about 300 European blue-chip companies and would operate in tandem with domestic stock markets. Irish companies expected to be listed on the pan-European market include AIB, Bank of Ireland, CRH, Elan, Kerry, Smurfit and Irish Life.
Fruit of the Tiger
Booming Ireland has certainly not lost its spirit of giving. The country recently pledged a record £20 million to the World Bank to be used to provide cheap development loans to poor countries.
Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. has disclosed plans for a restructuring that will mean as many as 3,600 workers losing their jobs. Smurfit-Stone Container was created by the recent merger of Jefferson Smurfit Corp. and Stone Container Corp. The company said it expects the merger and the restructuring plan to yield annual cost savings of at least $350 million.