Fallon, Padraic (1946–2012), journalist and businessman, was born on 21 September 1946 in the County Hospital, Wexford, the youngest of six sons of Padraic Fallon (qv), a poet, playwright and customs official of Rowe Street, Wexford, and his wife Dorothea (née Maher). In 1948 the family moved to a ramshackle Georgian house with an attached twenty-acre farm just outside Wexford town. When not helping with farm-work, Padraic spent an idyllic childhood fishing, sailing, biking and generally romping with his older brothers.
Raised an atheist, he resented the religious obscurantism and harsh discipline prevailing at his secondary school, St Peters College, Wexford, contrasting this with the spirit of inquiry found in the classical Greek literature strewn about the family home and among his father's distinguished circle of literary and artistic friends. The Fallon boys all nurtured creative aspirations with Gary becoming a marine artist; Brian, art critic of the Irish Times; Conor (qv), a sculptor; and Niall, a writer. Padraic wanted to be a writer, but by the time he finished his schooling at Blackrock College, Co. Dublin, his father felt the family had enough bohemians and directed him towards a business career. In 1969 he graduated from TCD with an honours BBS after putting himself through college by working casually for the Irish Times as a sub-editor. He excelled in this role.
His brother Ivan had begun a career in journalism that saw him become City editor of the Sunday Telegraph, deputy editor of the Sunday Times and a senior Independent Newspapers executive. On Ivan's advice, Padraic went to London in 1969 to join Thomson Regional Newspapers as a financial journalist. Six months later he became City reporter for the Daily Mirror, a left-wing, downmarket tabloid, before moving on in 1972 to the same role at the Daily Mail, a right-wing, mid-market tabloid, in order to impress his future father-in-law. Later that year he married Gillian Hellyer, who was from Yorkshire. They had a son and three daughters. Fallon thrived under the Daily Mail's jovial City editor Patrick Sergeant, learning from him that business can be covered engagingly.
After spending the summer of 1974 in Beirut editing Middle East Money, a Daily Mail joint venture, Fallon was recalled to London to edit another Daily Mail venture, Euromoney. This was a modestly profitable monthly founded by Sergeant in 1969 to cover the obscure, somewhat disreputable 'Eurobond' market, centred on London. Although Sergeant's bonhomie opened doors in banking, he relied heavily on Fallon's journalistic flair, acumen and ruthlessness. Thus, having previously struck a deal with the Daily Mail entitling him and his associates to most of Euromoney's earnings, Sergeant immediately guaranteed Fallon 6.5 per cent of any profit, also rewarding him over time with shares.
Initially a regular Euromoney contributor, Fallon for many years conducted interviews with leading financial figures, showing himself to be a searching interrogator. The winner of a commendation at the Wincott awards for outstanding financial journalism during 1979, he urged his reporters to seek fresh topics or angles, however esoteric, for rendering in clear and precise prose – he hated the wrong use of words. Combining a deep knowledge of bonds with a corresponding disdain for equities, he grasped that financial markets were influenced more by strong individuals and crowd psychology than by impersonal economic forces. Accordingly, he focused on and largely extoled the Eurobond market's impresarios, the syndicate managers, publishing irreverent takes on their decadent lifestyles.
Vulnerable to pressure from the select circle of bankers comprising his main source of revenue and news, he was often accused of assuring advertisers of a good press, yet regularly incurred their wrath by robustly defending reporters who made justified criticisms. He knew that Euromoney's ability to attract advertising relied ultimately on solidifying its reputation as the most reliable purveyor of information concerning the then murky and chaotic Eurobond market. His blend of flattery, free market cheerleading, good writing, gossip and analysis led Euromoney's worldwide circulation to quadruple to 20,000 by 1984, earning the Queen's Export Achievement Award in 1983. Establishing itself as the most prestigious international credit publication, Euromoney thrived from 1976 off the Eurobond sector's exponential growth and London's attendant re-emergence as the world's financial centre. Banks jostled to place their bond issue announcements in its pages, also sponsoring special surveys, supplements and even entire issues.
Fallon stepped down as Euromoney's editor in 1986 amid promotions to executive director (1975), deputy managing director (1982), managing director (1986) and executive chairman (1992) of Euromoney Publications. A rare instance of someone successfully going from business journalism to business management, he guided Euromoney's diversification from the 1970s into other financial magazines as well as business conferences, book publishing, newsletters, training courses, expert reports and electronic databases. This process involved either launching new companies and publications, often in partnership, or acquiring existing ones, normally by buying a small stake while pledging to take the rest on a performance basis. Amassing over seventy magazines, newsletters and journals, he set up niche publications including ones dwelling on cross-border legal and tax issues and on finance in specific industries or world regions; it was a global company, being especially strong in Europe and Asia.
In 1997 Euromoney doubled in size, gained a major US presence and became the world's leading capital markets publisher upon buying the prestigious Institutional Investor magazine and its associated publishing and conference ventures for £84 million sterling (all subsequent sums are in sterling). This risky acquisition involved assuming significant debt for the first time amid protests and resignations from Institutional Investor journalists wary of Euromoney's advertising focus. Fallon made it work by respecting Institutional Investor's culture of editorial independence and relying on profit incentive schemes to spur the local management into cutting costs. His by-then longstanding policy of providing unusually generous incentive schemes for managers encouraged initiative while controlling spending, thus enabling Euromoney to achieve trading margins that were the envy of publishing and conference sectors typified by extravagant expense accounts and vanity events.
He took his duties as editor-in-chief seriously and reviewed all group publications quarterly, awarding prizes for the best pieces. A copy-editor at heart, he exhorted staff to treat his pride and joy, the Euromoney style guide, as holy writ and bombarded editors with memos highlighting errors, bad prose and lazy headlines. One of the few publishers prepared to nurture developing talent, he established a graduate training scheme that became an industry benchmark, shaping a generation of British financial journalists. His youthful reporters were poorly paid, hard-pressed and subject to ruthless staff culls during downturns, yet they routinely bested more experienced competitors while acquiring marketable skills. The most able could advance quickly within an informal and convivial office environment.
With growth being financed overwhelmingly from Euromoney's prodigious cash flow, the company's floatation on the Luxembourg stock exchange in 1986 was mainly to allow Fallon and other insiders achieve better prices for their shares. The Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) retained a sizeable majority shareholding, which initially precluded a London listing. Although the share soared for several years once the London Stock Exchange relented in 1990, DMGT's dominant stake depressed its price in the long term notwithstanding Euromoney's strong financial performance. Reflecting Euromoney's development into DMGT's mainstay, Fallon became a group executive director in 1999.
Despite benefiting from share options, his entitlement to 6.5 per cent (reduced latterly to 5.3 per cent) of profits remained his main money-spinner. His annual remuneration, which peaked at £5.86 million for 2012, made him DMGT's highest paid employee, exceeding that of executives running companies worth over ten times more. Corporate watchdogs and outside investors noted the lack of an independent board and condemned his pay and employment terms as excessive. Certainly he enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, characterised by chauffeur-driven cars and fine wines and cigars. He could afford high priced residences in Holland Park, London, and in East Grafton, Wiltshire.
Although he was fiercely abrasive during his years editing Euromoney, success later permitted him to give freer rein to his warm, impish personality with meetings chaired by him involving much playful verbal sparring. He believed that personal contact was crucial for business relationships and mingled adeptly with the world's banking and political elite, establishing himself as a confidant, adviser and reputation maker. His charm, wit and breadth of learning were shown to full effect over always long, but never dull, lunches held in opulent surrounds. He cultivated old-fashioned airs, being a proud member of the Garrick, one of London's most exclusive gentlemen's clubs.
An enthusiastic, though unskilled, skier and tennis player, he successfully led a revolt by members of the Queen's Club tennis facility in London against plans to sell it for development. Keener still on shooting and, above all, fly-fishing, he owned a sliver of the River Blackwater in Co. Cork, where he taught Jonathon Rothermere, the owner of DMGT, to catch salmon. Other holidays were spent fishing in Iceland and Russia. He was a generous supporter of various charities, including a school in Ghana and the Gandhi Eye Hospital in India, and donated to his alma mater, becoming a director of the TCD foundation in 2000.
He wrote three books, two of which were published. A rare literary depiction of a happy Irish upbringing, A hymn of the dawn (2003) is a gentle, semi-fictional account that compresses the events of several summers from his childhood into one. In The circle of Archimedes (2009), the main character abandons his City career to roam a Wiltshire landscape dotted with prehistoric monuments where he communes with the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes. Partly a treatment of the developing conflict between science and religion in the classical world, this surrealist novel comprises parallel storylines unfolding across time interspersed with Jungian digressions on Celtic and Egyptian mythology.
Towards the end of his long tenure as an AIB director (1988–2007), he realised belatedly that Ireland's largest bank had overextended itself disastrously and resigned without making waves in public. By then he was aware that many of his banker friends in London and further afield had also lost the run of themselves, a concern that was reflected to some extent in his publications. He took his savings out of the banks and put them into Norwegian kroner, thereby emerging personally unscathed from the 2008 financial crisis.
Likewise, his earlier reorientation of Euromoney towards emerging markets and highly specialised, subscriber-only online publications delivered record profits despite the macroeconomic turmoil and the sectoral havoc wrought by internet publishing. The audacious £221 million purchase in 2006 of the commodities publication Metal Bulletin had marked a decisive shift away from relying on advertising in favour of a more stable subscriber-based model. In 2012 Euromoney enjoyed a market valuation of £750 million and reported annual profits of £94 million from £394 million in revenues.
After announcing that he had cancer in October 2011, he continued performing his executive functions on a reduced scale, while undergoing chemotherapy. He intended retiring in January 2013, but died in a London hospital on 13 October 2012.