Sunday 11 December 2016

The Punt: Council in gear for East Link

The Punt

Published 09/11/2015 | 02:30

Dublin's East Link toll bridge
Dublin's East Link toll bridge

The East Link toll bridge in the capital - used as a backdrop in the video for U2's song 'Pride' - reverts to the control of Dublin City Council at the end of this year. And already, the Punt notices that the mandarins at Wood Quay are getting their ducks in a row in advance of the handover.

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The bridge was developed in 1984 by Dublin Port, the council and NTR. At the moment, the toll income is split between the council, which gets 17pc of the income, Dublin Port, which gets 25pc, with the remainder going to DIF, the Dutch firm that now operates the bridge.

The bridge generated €4.2m in profits in 2013.

Irish company NTR sold its interest in the bridge to DIF in 2010.

Last year, Dublin city councillors voted to retain a toll on the bridge when it reverts to public ownership. Dublin City Council has just established a new company called The Ringsend Toll Bridge, but surely no plans to change the name of U2's famous bridge?

Butler checks out at Ardagh

The Punt sees that Ardagh's Karen Butler has resigned as a director at the company. She's been with the packaging giant since 2004, and was head of group corporate finance and treasury at the firm, which is controlled by Dubliner Paul Coulson.

Butler (39) was previously a senior management accountant at ABN Amro in Amsterdam, and prior to that the financial controller at a firm called Focus Investments.

Her departure comes as Ardagh said it's delaying a planned stockmarket flotation of its metal containers unit, Oressa.

It had been expected that the division would be valued at more than €2bn, with Ardagh having earmarked proceeds to pay down its debt pile.

Within the past four years, Ardagh twice pulled a planned flotation of the entire business.

It has insisted that the flotation of the metals unit remains on the agenda as soon as stockmarket conditions stabilise.

Coulson told analysts that the decision to postpone the initial public offering had nothing to do with trading. He said that after Ardagh filed documents in advance of the planned flotation with the SEC, it received takeover approaches which were not compelling.

BoS draws ire on stud farm

Remember Kennycourt Stud Farm? In 2013, about 250 locals in Co Kildare removed receivers appointed by IBRC from the premises and temporarily padlocked themselves into the 120-acre estate. IBRC was owed €814,000 at the time, while Bank of Scotland (Ireland) was understood to be owed about €7m.

Eugene McDermott is the registered owner of the farm. Bank of Scotland applied for planning permission in January to remove part of the existing boundary fence surrounding the protected structure, and to construct a new set-back entrance and gate for agricultural use. It took 10 months before the local council made a decision, approving it after asking for additional information.

Now that decision has been appealed to An Bord Pleanala. McDermott had already informed the council that his permission for the development by Bank of Scotland was "neither sought nor given". He also insisted that allowing farm machinery to enter at the proposed new entrance would constitute a "serious traffic hazard".

McDermott is a well-known horse breeder and trainer, who trained Cheltenham winners and sold horses to the Qatar royal family. He told the 'Sunday Independent' in 2012 about banks in Ireland: "I don't blame them for everything but they caused the downfall of this country and we have bailed them out."

Irish Independent

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