Monday 24 October 2016

What it says in the papers: business pages

Paul O'Donoghue

Published 23/09/2015 | 06:52

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

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Irish Independent:

***Businessman Denis O’Brien will retain voting control at mobile operator Digicel after a planned flotation on the New York Stock Exchange that could give the telco an equity value of as much as $5bn (€4.5bn).

Its enterprise value, which includes debt following the flotation, will be close to $10bn (€9bn).

It’s likely to see Digicel raise between $1.8bn to $2bn (€1.6bn and €1.8bn). The share debut could happen within days, or it may take a few weeks.

***Construction giant Sisk and a hotels firm have settled a multi-million euro claim for damages over its work on a hotel in the tallest building in the UK.

Shangri-La Hotels had sought damages of £57.8m from Sisk over alleged delays by the Irish firm which resulted in the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in The Shard skyscraper in central London opening a year late.

Among the allegations that Shangri-La made were that problems with the fit-out of the hotel by Sisk meant that work fell 37 weeks behind schedule.

***British firm Europa Oil and Gas is on the hunt for a new associate to help progress its potentially lucrative exploration licences off the Irish coast after its partner Kosmos decided to withdraw from the project.

US exploration company Kosmos Energy yesterday announced it is to withdraw from the venture, comprising  two licences in an area known as the Porcupine Basin.

Kosmos’ stake will now transfer to Europa, which will retain 100pc of the licences. Earlier this year, Europa estimated its 15pc interest in one of the two licences had a risked value of $251m. Europa chief executive Hugh Mackay said that while Europa is disappointed with Kosmos’ choice, the company will look to secure another farmout partner.

Irish Times:

***Goldman Sachs and the Rhatigan Property Group have settled a legal battle surrounding an €80m debt as well as the ownership of the Radisson Blu Hotel in Dublin.

The Rhatigan had challenged the right of Goldman Sachs affiliate Beltany Properties to appoint receivers to a number of its assets, including the hotel, on foot of an €80m debt.

The paper reports that the two parties have settled the dispute and the Rhatigan group’s existing loans will be refinanced.

***Volkswagen’s chief executive has issued another apology over the company’s cheating on emissions tests, which comes as the firm has said that up to 11m of its cars have had software installed to deceive the tests.

EU regulators have said that they are in contact with Volkswagen and US authorities following the German car-makers admission that it has cheated on emissions tests in the US for years.

CEO Martin Winterkorn has said that he is “utterly sorry” for the damage that the scandal has done for trust in the company.

***The Government is considering whether to go ahead with a revised metro north system to link Dublin city to the airport and north county Dublin, the Irish Times reports.

The project had been shelved several years ago due to concerns over its cost. It had originally been estimated that it would cost about €2.5bn.

However, the newspaper reports that a revised “optimised” metro system has been proposed to the Government by the National Transport Authority. Some sources have suggested that the cost of the revised project could be as low as €1.8bn.

Irish Examiner:

***Lowering the rate of Universal Social Charge by one percentage point for those earning over €17,575 would cost the exchequer €364m, it has been claimed.

The estimate comes from the Irish Tax Institute, which yesterday published a range of figures on the possible cost of the fiscal options facing the Government in the upcoming budget.

The figure of €364m is more than half of the amount that Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said will be available for tax cuts in the budget.

***Auctioneers have called on Finance Minister Michael Noonan to rethink the sale of Nama assets, the Irish Examiner reports.

The chief executive of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers Pat Davitt said that the Minister should look at whether Irish investors can buy the loans, rather than them being sold to foreign funds.

This would include the €7.2bn Project Arrow loans, the largest auction by the agency to date.

***The weak euro has hit the Irish arm of motor group AA with sales falling despite an increased number of customers.

Turnover at AA Ireland dropped from £18.8m in the six months to the end of June, according to its parent company’s interim results.

That compares to revenue of £19.4m during the same period last year. Although it s parent company does not break down details of its Irish insurance business, its number of insurance policies rose by 10,000 to 182,000.

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