By Harry Keaney
The Fordham Graduate School of Business will host a conference on the euro, the new common currency of the European Union, on Oct. 26, at 113 West 60th Street, Fordham at Lincoln Center, 12th Floor.
The conference will feature keynote speeches by Dr. Sirkka Hamalainen, a member of the executive board of the European central bank and William McDonough, the president of the federal reserve bank of New York. Conference panels will also address key issues in financial areas, information technology, marketing, accounting and taxation.
Hamalainen is one of six European Monetary Union appointees to the executive board of the ECB. From 1992 to 1998, she was governor and chairman of the Bank of Finland as well as governor of the International Monetary Fund.
McDonough was appointed the eighth president and chief executive officer of the federal reserve bank of New York in 1993. He currently serves as vice-chairman of the federal market open committee, the group responsible for formulating U.S. monetary policy. Prior to joining the Fed, McDonough had a distinguished career with First Chicago and the U.S. State Department.
For information on the conference, call Lisa Green at (212) 636-6162 or Alfred C. Holden at (212) 636-6115.
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New tourism brochure
The Irish Tourist Board has just released its new brochure, "Priceless Ireland at Prices You Can Afford." The brochure is produced in conjunction with Ireland West Tourism, Shannon Development, Shannon Airport Marketing and Aer Lingus, and offers details on nine vacations to the West of Ireland from Oct. 1998 to April 1999. According to the tourist board, the brochure offers savings of 30 to 50 percent. For information on the offers in the new brochure, call 1-800-223-6470.
Trinity Biotech, an Irish Nasdaq-quoted company, has acquired the infectious disease diagnostics business of Cambridge Diagnostics Ireland, a subsidiary of the U.S. company Selfcare. The consideration is valued at $4.7 million.
Hibernia Foods, which has also raised funds on the Nasdaq, is to invest £4 million in a frozen ready meals plant in Tipperary. The plant is expected to employ up to 100 people when it starts production next year.
The American Ireland Fund Palm Beach will hold its 1999 benefit gala on Feb. 18 in The Breakers, in Palm Beach. John F. McGillicuddy, retired chairman of the Chemical Banking Corporation, will be presented with the Leadership Award and William J. Brooks, vicepresident and general manager of WPTV News Channel 5, will receive the Humanitarian Award. For information, call (212) 681-1322 or 1-800-IRL-FUND.
The Irish Business Organization will meet this Wednesday, Oct. 14, in the Shelburne Hotel, on Lexington Avenue, between 37th and 38th Streets.
Meanwhile, Monaghan native Tony White, chairman & CEO of the Abacus Direct Corporation, will be honored as business person of the year on October 23, at the IBO’s annual gala ball in the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, NYC. White has selected the Emerald Isle Immigration Center as the beneficiary to receive a portion of the evening’s proceeds.
The Arthur Clements Awards will be presented to Bill Buckley, Tess Casey, of Aisling Flowers, and Philip McGauran, of Belvedere Communications. The Celtic Achievement Award will go to former senator George Mitchell, who was chairman of the Northern Ireland peace talks.
Tickets cost $150 per person, $1,500 for a table of ten. For information, call (718) 745-9146.
Fruit of the vine
Oh, how Ireland is changing. The Wine Development Board of Ireland has announced a series of wine appreciation classes in 26 centers around the country. Almost 1,600 students are expected to sign up and will spend their evenings pondering Pinot Noirs, Merlots, Chenin Blancs and Rieslings.
The Wine Development Board was set up in 1977 to promote the sale of wine in Ireland. The Celtic Tiger now savors 40 million bottles annually, three times the amount in the late 1970s.
Rich vs poor
The gap between rich and poor widens daily, despite the expected budget surplus of £800 million for this year, Labour candidate for the Cork South Central by-election Toddy O’Sullivan claimed recently.
He said it was only the very top levels of society which were reaping the benefits of the Celtic Tiger, while ordinary people still had to struggle to enjoy a decent standard of living.
"Under this government, hospital waiting lists have soared, thousands of people are stranded on housing waiting lists and low and middle-income earners still have to pay the top level of tax," he said.
With the largest budget surplus in the history of the State, O’Sullivan said the government should invest in health services, education and housing, so that every section of society could benefit.
American timber for Ireland
A small Donegal firm has found a niche market for recycled 18th and 19th century wood.
Pick of the Pines limited, based in Bridgend, has tapped in the demand for a natural wooden look, particularly in traditional wooden floors, according to the Donegal Democrat. While most of the wood is imported from the United States, many of the finished products end up in a lot of Irish pubs in America, and in other establishments in England, Spain and France.
A major selling point for the company is the appeal of natural floors over fabricated alternatives.
"What we do is we take in old timbers from places like warehouses, old railway stations and mills, and de-metal them and clean them down to be machined into boards for traditional wooden floors," said Geraldine Scott, a company director.
The bumper launch of the First Active — formerly the First
National Building Society — on the stock exchanges in London and Dublin saw the value of the 450 free shares given to 216,000 members soar from £1,012 to £1,305.
The shares were launched at the unexpectedly low price of 225p but quickly spiralled to 290p, leaving 13,000 people who sold out
immediately missing out on the extra windfall.
The big winners were the First Active bosses who made substantial
paper gains on share options they were granted, though they are not
exercisable for three years.
The three most senior executives, managing director John Smyth, his deputy Michael Shanahan and operations director Paul Reville shared a paper profit of more than £500,000 between them.
The shares later settled back at a price range of 260/265p but had
gained ground to 280p again this week.
Growth in house prices throughout the country slowed to 1.4
percent in August — down 2.7 percent on the previous month — according to the Irish Permanent/ESRI property index but there are fears prices may take off again as interest rates plummet.
The pace of growth of house prices in Dublin hit a nine month low in August but first-time buyers continued to find the cost of getting a
foot on the ladder was getting harder for them.
First time buyers found prices had jumped by 2.2 percent, up from 1.9 percent the previous month. The pace of growth this year has been almost twice the rate last year.
In the year to August, house prices rose 39.7 percent in the capital
compared to 22.8 percent in the rest of the country.
Early indications show that the September figures will show the
plateau effect continuing during the month.