The Punt: Healthy CV of new chief
The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), which unsurprisingly monitors health products in Ireland, has appointed Lorraine Nolan as its new chief executive.
She succeeds Pat O'Mahony who took up the position of Deputy Secretary at the Department of Health in September.
Nolan, pictured below, who will take office with immediate effect, is well known in the Irish pharmacy sector.
She has been a stalwart of the public health sector and has held a number of senior positions within the HPRA.
One of her most senior roles was the position of director of human products authorisation where she oversaw the evaluation and authorisation of medicines and medical devices for the Irish market.
She holds a PhD in chemistry and a degree in chemistry from Trinity College, Dublin.
Nolan has 20 years of technical and scientific experience working in the HPRA and is a member of the European Medicines Agency Management Board.
The Punt feels under-qualified just listing her achievements.
Avoca's €375k castle bill
The Punt was nosing around - as the Punt does - and stumbled across the rent that it is believed upmarket retailer Avoca is paying for its premises at Malahide Castle in north Dublin.
Property record show that a 20-year lease began last summer at a retail and restaurant unit at the venue, priced at an astonishing €375,000 a year.
That means it has to take in an average of €7,200 a week just to pay the rent.
Add in another few thousand a week in wages and all the associated insurance, gas, electricity, rates and other bills and the Punt can only imagine the kind of turnover that needs to be generated by the premises in order to turn a profit.
But Avoca, which was sold by the Pratt family last year to US firm Aramark for a cool €60m, wouldn't have entered into the lease - and forked out money to fit out the premises - unless they thought they could make a go of it.
The outlet must be selling lots and lots of coffees, pies and bric-a-brac to locals and tourists to cover the bills.
Malahide Castle and its gardens are run under contract by Shannon Heritage, part of the State-owned Shannon Group that also operates Shannon Airport.
The local council continues to manage the demesne itself.
Ulster says yes to lending
Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) boss Nick Ashmore is upbeat.
The body tasked with ensuring small and medium businesses get access to affordable loans announced yesterday that it now has five major lending partners providing low-cost loans to SMEs, after Ulster Bank was unveiled as the latest addition.
The SBCI has committed €75m to Ulster Bank to allow it to provide SME loans with a discount of at least 1pc on existing Ulster Bank loan rates.
The products on offer will have loan maturity of up to 10 years, flexible payments schedules and an option for customers of other banks, that have left the Irish market, to refinance their loans.
"The €75m we have committed to Ulster Bank means we have now made a total of €750m available to Irish SMEs - that's 94pc of the €800m we started out with," Ashmore said.
"The speed of take-up tells us that there is a strong appetite for SBCI loans and that we are making a real and tangible difference to Irish SMEs."
Eddie Cullen, managing director of Ulster Bank's commercial banking division, said its lending to SMEs grew last year.
"We look forward to continuing to support the ambitions of Irish businesses," he said.