Saturday 25 March 2017

What it says in the papers: business pages

Michael Cogley

Michael Cogley

Here are the main business stories from this morning's papers:

Irish Independent

* The ESB has come in for strong criticism for not passing on more cuts to customers after it recorded huge profits.

The State-owned company made operating profits of €635m last year, an increase of €83m from the previous year.

The ESB cut electricity prices by just 4pc for households in the past year, despite collapses in the cost of wholesale gas and oil.

* The Department of Finance was charged almost €300,000 in legal fees last year to fight the European Commission's state aid investigation involving Apple.

Figures provided by the department show that €151,691 had to be paid to UK barrister Philip Baker, QC.

Smaller amounts of €55,052 and €89,184 were due for work by Irish barristers Aoife Goodman and Maurice G Collins SC, respectively.

* Facebook bosses are "optimistic" that the company will achieve a near-doubling of its Dublin-based workforce to over 2,000 employees.

"If the business continues to grow at the pace it's growing now, I'd be optimistic that we could fill the building," Gareth Lambe, head of Facebook Ireland, told the Irish Independent.

Mr Lambe was speaking as the company announced its intention to hire a further 200 people by the end of 2016. This will bring the social network's workforce in Ireland to 1,500 by the end of the year, Mr Lambe said.

The Irish Times

* Irish Water is to seek planning permission to increase the capacity of the country's largest sewage plant by 50pc.

The expansion is expected to cost €300m. The plant, which is based in Ringsend serves both Dublin city and county and parts of Meath.

The extension will mean the facility will be able to process the sewage of 2.4 million people.

* Shares at Swiss-Irish food group Aryzta fell by just over 10pc on Monday after the company said it expected erratic growth over the next year and a half.

Revenue at the firm grew by 5.5pc to €1.96bn in the six-month period ending January 31.

Earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation increased 2.7pc to €230m.

* New figures from the Central Bank shows consumers are moving away from credit cards in favour of putting their money on deposit.

In flows into deposit accounts were at their largest since 2008 while the number of credit cards has fallen by 16pc.

In the first half of 2015 there was an increase of credit card accounts in arrears when compared to the second half.

Irish Examiner

* Sanctions have been imposed on four Gas Network Ireland employees and the firm has been fined £500,000 (€644,122) due to "serious financial impropriety".

According to a report in the Irish Examiner a whistleblower came forward claiming that a pipeline project in the Republic in 2003 had an overrun of £500,000.

The whistleblower said the overrun was covered up by assigning costs to other jobs, one of which was based in the North.

* Irish consumer grocery spending has increased by 3.6pc over the last three months according to the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel.

The figures from the consumer insights agency covered the three month period that ended on March 1.

Shopper spending has increased by at least 3pc in the last three 12-week reporting periods.

* Concerns that there may be an over-concentration of pubs in the Camden Street area of Dublin have resulted in plans for a new €4m JD Wetherspoon super-pub and hotel being put on hold.

This follows Dublin City Council requesting further information from the UK pub giant on its plan on the site on a former homeless hostel at Camden Hall that is part of a wider company plan to open 30 pubs in Ireland over the next five years.

The application has attracted a number of objections being lodged by local residents against the plan that also proposes a 98 bedroom hotel at the site in a scheme that will create 100 jobs if it gets the green light.

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