What it says in the papers: business pages
HERE are the main business stories from this morning's papers:
***A Garda investigation has been launched following a claim by politician Mick Wallace that an unnamed Nama official sought and received a €15,000 bribe.
The move came after Nama wrote to Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan requesting that the latest allegation by the Independent TD be investigated “as a matter of urgency”.
Mr Wallace told the Dáil a portfolio manager twice asked a construction firm for €15,000 “in a bag in cash” in return for being allowed to exit Nama.
***Thousands of Irish investors are set to share in a near €250m windfall as one of Ireland’s best-known public companies, NTR, fades from the corporate landscape, the Irish Independent has learned.
NTR, which once owned assets including the Westlink Toll Bridge, recycling firm Greenstar, and a chunk of wind energy firm Airtricity, is effectively being wound down.
Controlled by shareholders including chairman Tom Roche and his family, as well as investment group One51, the company has already told shareholders that following the recent sale of its wind energy assets in the United States it’s now planning to sell off remaining assets and return cash to investors. The company will have close to €250m available to hand back.
***A banking Inquiry whistleblower has made explosive allegations of conflicts of interest among some staff hired to investigate the collapse of the country’s economy.
The Irish Independent has learned a legal professional hired to work for the inquiry has been raising concerns about some colleagues since April.
However, the concerns about contacts between some inquiry staff and Central Bank officials only emerged yesterday.
***Former management at Irish Nationwide Building Society each face the possibility of fines of up to €500,000 as the Central Bank starts a new inquiry into the lender’s collapse, the Irish Times reports.
The examination follows a five year probe into the lending and regulatory processes in place at INBS, whose demise led to the taxpayer being forced to fork out €5.4bn.
The newspaper reports that the latest investigation is to focus on the role of individuals in breaches and failings. Any individual against whom adverse findings are made could face fines of up to €500,000.
***Ryanair has confirmed that it will bid for take-off and landing slots at London’s Gatwick airport that have to be freed up as a condition of IAG’s takeover of Aer Lingus.
The European Commission said on Tuesday that it is sanctioning the Aer Lingus takeover, but that to allay competition concerns IAG will surrender five daily take-off and landing slots at Gatwick as one of two concessions.
Speaking in Brussels yesterday Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary welcomed the decision and added: “We will certainly be bidding for the slots and we would certainly want to expand services we offer at Gatwick.”
***The National Treasury Management agency held talks with the Libyan investment authority about investing €1.4bn in Bank of Ireland in late 2010, the Oireachtas banking inquiry has heard.
Speaking at the inquiry yesterday former NTMA chief executive John Corrigan said the fund was prepared to pay €400m for a 24pc stake in Bank of Ireland and also proposed to take out €1bn of preference shares in the bank which were held by the State.
A number of NTMA officials travelled to Tripoli in December to meet the fund, however the Libyans pulled back from the deal because “they couldn’t be comfortable around a third round of recapitalisation” for Bank of Ireland, which arose the following year.
***The developer of an apartment block labelled a “fire trap” by several expert reports has been given two weeks to submit a safety plan or he will face High Court proceedings, the Irish Examiner reports.
The director of services at Meath County Council has demanded action from developer Michael Ryan on the back of an independent engineer’s report condemning Riverwalk Park in Ratoath, which his firm Saltan Properties built.
The report, commissioned by the council two weeks ago, found a number of safety breaches at the development including an absence of fire doors in the building and a lack of fire alarms.
***British pub chain JD Wetherspoons has said that it is looking at more sites around Ireland after reporting strong performances at its Irish outlets, according to the Irish Examiner.
The company yesterday issued a pre-close full year statement for the 12 months to the end of July in which it said that sales are up by 7.6pc. A spokesman for the firm said that the three current Irish outlets are trading very well, saying that management is “more than happy” with their current performance.
He said that there continues to be “great scope” for growth across Ireland.
***The Government will not be able to guarantee the operation of the Ireland’s only oil refinery once the contract to operate it expires next year, the Irish Examiner reports.
Fears have been raised in recent weeks about the future of the Whitegate oil refinery after it emerged that its current operator, US company Phillips 66, is considering selling the facility.
A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Natural Resources said that while the State’s preference is for refining to continue at the operation, after the Government offloaded its stake in Whitegate in 2001, the future of the facility will be decided solely on a commercial basis by its parent company.