What it says in the papers: business pages
HERE are the main business stories from this morning's papers:
*An extra 300 towns have been promised superfast broadband in an expansion of the service from a joint venture between the ESB and Vodafone.
The €450m regional fibre broadband service delivers speed of up 1,000 megabits per second – at least four times faster than services available in cities..
The service, which is due to launch this autumn, was originally planned for just 50 large towns but an expansion is already in the works.
*Aer Lingus is only ever likely to attract another buyout approach if it gets into financial difficulty and can be bought at a knockdown price to the €1.4bn IAG is offering, a leading financial analyst has warned.
David Holohan, the head of research at stockbroking firm Merrion Capital, told the Irish Independent that the drawn-out attempt by IAG to buy the Irish carrier will have put any other airline or investor off ever making an offer to buy Aer Lingus, unless it’s in financial distress.
While the Cabinet won’t be discussing a sale of Aer Lingus at its meeting tomorrow, there is still no certainty that it will be on the agenda next week either.
*Northern Ireland has taken the biggest hit in living standards of any UK region since the crash, research claims.
The North has moved from being the region with the fourth lowest income per household in 2007, to being the lowest in 2014, according to the study flagged yesterday by the trade union-funded Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI).
The stark data comes as the private sector in the North has experienced a rapid slowdown since the end of last year, although activity rose fractionally in March for the first time in four months.
*The Government is currently trialling an early warning system that should sound the alarm in the case of any threat to the recovering economy, according to the Irish Times.
The paper reports that the Coalition plans to use economic data not previously used as part of a project to better track employment and cost trends.
The Statement of Strategy says that the Government plans to introduce the new system as early as the summer.
*The 350-acre Ashford Castle resort is set to be officially reopened later in the week after undergoing a $50m revamp, the Irish Times reports.
The castle was bought by South African firm Red Carnation Hotels in June 2013, who have spent about $50m restoring the property in addition to the initial purchase price of $25m.
The paper reports that room rates will range from €495 to €2,500 a night during peak season.
*A distributor of a number of well-known tobacco brands says the Government cannot unilaterally introduce plain packaging on its products as a member of the EU.
JTI Ireland Ltd says this would be contrary to EU harmonisation objectives and an obstacle to trade between member states. It also claims the new rules, due to come in next month, will distort and impair the dynamics of competition in the tobacco market and lead to a fall in average prices for tobacco products.
JTI is seeking High Court orders preventing the commencement of a recently passed law which will means all tobacco products must come in standard plain paper packaging.
*SuperValu has toppled Tesco as Ireland’s biggest grocery chain – the first time in more than a decade that the British retailer hasn’t held the top spot here.
SuperValu, which is controlled by Cork-based retail group Musgrave, but whose stores are almost entirely
operated by local owners, just managed to nudge Tesco from the throne, securing a 24.9pc share of the Irish grocery market compared with Tesco’s 24.7pc.
The latest set of figures from research group Kantar Worldpanel show that Dunnes Stores has retained its number three position, with a 22.7pc share in the 12 weeks to March 29.
*Permanent TSB is set to launch the first public share sale by a bank since the start of the financial crisis later today as it is expected to unveil details of a planned €400m share sale.
The almost entirely State-owned institution, which was the only one of Ireland’s banks to fail European stress tests last year, last week secured shareholder approval to raise €400m in equity as part of a plan to shore up €525m to plug a capital hole flagged by the European Central Bank.
The bank plans to raise €125m of capital in addition to the €400m from the share sale by issuing risky “additional tier 1 bonds”, a form of corporate debt that would convert into bank shares if the bank ran into financial difficulties in future.
*A surge in economic activity over the past year has seen a record jump in cargo volumes at Dublin Port during the first quarter of the year.
And with the recovery prompting a rush of car sales and more trucks and vans on the roads, the number of new cars and commercial vehicles imported through the port rose 39pc to 32,917 in the first three months of 2015.
The growth in total cargo volumes, at 5.3pc, was the strongest ever reported during a single quarter at Dublin Port, and beat even previous record, hit in 2007 during the boom, by three percentage points.