Belfast Telegraph

It's champagne time for high-flyer in First class

By Margaret Canning

There's no doubt that the business world thrives on awards ceremonies - but one event in Dublin last night is arguably among the most significant on an all-Ireland basis.

And the fact that a Northern Irish company carried of the biggest title at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award last night makes it all the more worth celebrating.

Brian Conlon followed in the footsteps of former Northern Irish winner Peter Fitzgerald of Randox to win the award for his work in setting up and making a huge success of First Derivatives in Newry. He set up the company in 1996 and it now trades on the London Stock Exchange and the Irish Stock Exchange.

It has chosen Newry for the location of its research and development centre, its capital markets competency centre and its near-shore support facilities. The company also has premises in four continents to look after its clients around the world.

Those clients include nine of the 10 largest US investment banks, including Barclays, Merrill Lynch, Fidelity and Goldman Sachs, 30 of the world's top hedge funds, two of the world's largest Stock Exchanges and three of the largest retail banks in South East Asia.

He was a Co Down Gaelic football player in the mid-1980s.

He learned his trade as an accountant with KPMG and went to work for Morgan Stanley. In his London years, he was famously treated for his knee injury by the same surgeon who looked after Gazza. Home beckoned and in 1996 he established First Derivatives as a consultancy and services business for the investment banking market.

In 2002 it floated with a dual listing in Dublin and London and around two years ago it began developing and selling its own

So, in 1996, he started First Derivatives as a consultancy and services business, aimed at the investment banking market. The company grew organically from there. In 2002 it floated, taking a dual listing in Dublin and London. Just over two years ago, it began developing and selling its own software.

And it's ever since it began developing and selling software that First Derivatives has made headlines.

Its acquisitions have also earned it exposure, including US company LakeFront Data and Irish company Cognotec and further purchases could be on the cards.

But first, there's some champagne to be uncorked as Mr Conlon celebrates his well-deserved win.