Colm Kelpie looks at the business week in 60 seconds
Dublin goes bananas after Fyffes teams with Chiquita
IT was just bananas (sorry, I just couldn't resist). US fruit firm Chiquita and Dublin-based Fyffes announced their merger this week into the world's largest banana distributor.
The new company will generate sales of about $4.6bn (€3.3bn) per year, and the new combined business will distribute 16 billion bananas a year.
ChiquitaFyffes will be listed on the New York stock exchange but based here. It will employ 32,000 people across 70 countries and control 14pc of the world's banana market.
SHAKY END TO YEAR FOR ECONOMY
ECONOMISTS, and the Government no doubt, will warn that we shouldn't read too much into them, but the GDP figures released on Thursday were worse than expected.
The economy, as measured by GDP, shrunk 0.3pc last year, with the real shock coming in the final three months when it contracted by 2.3pc.
The continued effect of the so-called pharmaceutical patent cliff contributed to the drop, but consumer spending also fell over the year, and contracted 0.6pc in the final three months. Consumer prices also fell on an annual basis for the first time since July 2010.
Experts point to the strengthening employment data as giving a truer picture of the health of the economy, with recovery in the domestic economy remaining on track. Finance Minister Michael Noonan will be hoping for more positive figures as the year goes on.
GROUP REVENUE UP AT GLANBIA
GLANBIA had a good week after it reported full-year results, with group revenue up 10.5pc underpinned by a strong year for its global performance nutrition division.
The main figures – sales of €2.3bn, pre-tax profits of €150.9m – were up, while the firm increased full year dividend by 10pc.
Managing director Siobhan Talbot said the company has ambitious plans to beat its previously stated growth targets of 8pc to 10pc over the coming years, either through acquisitions or alliances.
But the news wasn't all good, with challenging conditions in its Dairy Ireland consumer business.
EBITA decreased 29.1pc with a 110 basis-point decline in margins.
Ms Talbot struck an upbeat tone, however, saying it expects improvement in the Dairy Ireland business this year.
A 'CALL' TO ACTION FOR OBAMA
With St Patrick's Day and all things green upon us, it's worth giving a little plug to one local business hopeful.
Former joiner John Burke is hoping to reignite his career by bringing the iconic telephone box back to life and sending it over to the US.
The Dubliner made a desk-top size replica of the iconic "Telefon" box for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Michelle Obama, which he hoped would be given when Taoiseach Enda Kenny travelled to the White House this year. It wasn't clear at the time of going to print whether his plan had worked out.
Mr Burke started recreating full-sized replica telephone boxes when the building boom collapsed. He now employs 16 people at his Ballyfermot factory, and has personalised phone boxes in five pubs nationwide.
PLENTY OF SPARK AT THE ESB
SEMI-state ESB had a good end to the week. It reported a profit of €415m, an increase of 23pc for 2013 as cost-cutting measures paid off.
In the same period, ESB said it had spent over €650m on its Irish infrastructure, adding that it contributed over €2bn to the Irish economy through dividends, investments, taxes and jobs.
The ESB board has recommended a final dividend payment of €29.8m to the Government. This brings the total dividends for the past 10 years to €1.2bn.
Sunday Indo Business