KENNEDY TIPPED TO SUCCEED KANE AS BANK OF IRELAND CHAIRMAN - Former Paddy Power chief executive Patrick Kennedy has emerged as the clear favourite to succeed Archie Kane as chairman of Bank of Ireland later this year.

This follows the announcement by Bank of Ireland on Wednesday that Mr Kane would be stepping down from a role he has held since June 2012. Mr Kennedy is currently deputy governor of Bank of Ireland, having joined the board in 2010. He is also chairman of Car Trawler, an Irish fleet management software company. A chartered accountant by training, he led Irish listed bookmaker Paddy Power from 2006 to 2014, a period of substantial growth and diversification for the company, says the Irish Times. Before Paddy Power, he worked as chief financial officer at Irish food company Greencore, where he spent seven years in total. In addition, he worked with KPMG Corporate Finance in Ireland and the Netherlands, and as a strategy consultant with McKinsey in London, Dublin and Amsterdam. His biography on Bank of Ireland’s website describes him as having an "in-depth knowledge of international business, management, finance, corporate transactions, strategic development and risk management".


INVESTMENT FIRM APPIAN DITCHES BONDS AS INFLATION FEARS HEIGHTENED - Boutique investment firm Appian Asset Management has cut its exposure to bonds amid fears the assets are over-valued.

The move comes in the wake of the recent turmoil on global equity markets, triggered by a leap in 10-year US government bond yields - a global benchmark - as inflation fears start to bite. It also follows mounting fears about a looming rout in fixed-income markets as central banks execute a phased retreat from quantitative easing (QE) over the next year or two, says the Irish Independent. QE has helped prop up stalling economies by pumping money directly into the financial system. But the change of course has prompted fears of a crash. Eugene Kiernan, head of Investment Strategy and Asset Allocation at Appian - which counts Pat Cox, the ex-president of the European Parliament as a board member - said the decision to cut all bond exposures from the firm's multi-asset funds was based on the expectation that "government bond yields will move up". When bond yields rise the price of the bonds falls. As a result, he said, "we don't see any potential value for our clients in the asset class". 

OECD URGES REFORM OF IRISH UTILITIES REGULATION - International economic thinktank the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has recommended "a comprehensive and necessary" reform package be implemented in order to improve the regulation of energy and water services in Ireland.

While broadly complimentary, the OECD's assessment report on the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) ruled that the regulator needs to enhance its performance in order to "stand up to future scrutiny and ensure that the multiple challenges it faces are adequately addressed". The OECD said the CRU needs to better communicate with both consumers, in terms of its services and role; and with the Government in terms of playing its part in tightening energy legislation, says the Irish Examiner. It also called for a more systematic and targeted use of regulatory impact analysis concerning Ireland’s single electricity market (SEM) in order to ensure the effectiveness of regulatory decisions as Brexit approaches and the SEM integrates into the broader European market.

UK BRACED FOR UNILEVER SNUB AS NETHERLANDS LEADS RACE FOR HQ - Theresa May is bracing for Unilever to choose the Netherlands over the UK for its new unified headquarters, after months of political pressure from both sides and amid an "emotional" atmosphere supercharged by Brexit.

UK officials have held talks with Unilever amid fears at the top of government that the Anglo-Dutch consumer group is about to decide to have its main base in Rotterdam, rather than London. Although they have not lost all hope of winning the tussle with the Netherlands, one British official briefed on the discussions admitted: "It wouldn’t be a great surprise if it happened". A final decision has not been taken, though the issue is expected to be decided at the next scheduled board meeting in the second week of March, says the Financial Times. Earlier this month Unilever said it would issue its decision "shortly". Greg Clark, business secretary, and Alex Chisholm, the senior official at Britain’s business department, have been talking with Unilever in an effort to ensure that the shake-up does not have a negative impact on the British economy. The British side hopes that even if the new unified headquarters is in Rotterdam, the UK would benefit from other decisions in the big shake-up planned by the company, including research jobs. Unilever has a dual legal structure involving two parent companies, two headquarters in Rotterdam and London, holds two annual meetings and has two separately listed companies. The company decided to simplify its structure to placate investors after fending off a $143 billion takeover bid from Kraft Heinz of the US a year ago.