Friday 19 January 2018

The Punt - Property folks keep on grinding this summer

Just this week, in fact, it emerged that Hibernia REIT was in exclusive talks to buy a Dublin office block
Just this week, in fact, it emerged that Hibernia REIT was in exclusive talks to buy a Dublin office block

The last week of July and August are not called the dog days for nothing. Every year market-watchers see volumes on the stock markets start to trail off, and in the property world things seem to come to a grinding halt.

There is a reason why August is known as the "builders' holiday", after all.

This year may be a little different, however.

Commercial property deals have shown few signs of dropping off in recent weeks. Just this week, in fact, it emerged that Hibernia REIT was in exclusive talks to buy a Dublin office block and numerous other investors are known to be negotiating purchases at present. Indeed, word reaches The Punt that there may be a few more major announcements to come before the property industry quietens down for a bit.

There are a few things pushing market activity into the traditional holiday time. First, the fact that the capital gains tax exemption expires at the end of this year means sellers want deals closed quickly.

Second, the sheer volume of property coming to market is forcing agents to keep going later in the season than they traditionally would.

Then again, a cynic might say it's no surprise the property folk are still working hard, given they had the guts of five years off.

Of course, we would never suggest such a thing.

Stobart Air throttles up

Stobart Air, which operates the Aer Lingus Regional service, has been busy ringing in some more changes at its head office in Swords, close to Dublin Airport.

Part of the UK's Stobart group, the airline has just begun the search for an operations director. The successful candidate will be responsible for the airline's fleet of 15 aircraft.

The carrier has been beefing up its headcount as it expands its business, having inked a franchise agreement earlier this year with UK regional airline Flybe. That's the second agreement it signed following its initial contract with Aer Lingus.

Stobart Air has also been recruiting for direct-entry captains, and in the past few months has sought a new head of revenue management, a product and retail manager, a head of training and standards, and a safety manager.

In April, Stobart Air's interim chief executive, Sean Brogan, pictured, was named chairman of the operation. Former BMI Baby boss Julian Carr was hired as managing director. Stobart Air said it carried 130,100 passengers in June, 37pc more than in June 2013.

A problem shared...

SINN Fein is regularly accused in the Dail of opposing austerity here, while all the while applying it as members of the executive in Northern Ireland.

Rather than denying it, they usually just change the subject.

They could quite plausibly deny it, but that would make things even more complicated.

The truth is that Sinn Fein ministers in Belfast haves been refusing to agree "austerity" welfare cuts for a couple of years. But their financial masters in Her Majesty's treasury in London refuse to make up the difference, which now amounts to a nasty £75m (€92m).

The new proposal to deal with the overspend is that the money must be found through spending cuts in government departments - with the exception of education and health.

The fact that these two departments are held by Sinn Fein and the DUP has not been lost on the smaller Alliance, SDLP and Ulster Unionist parties.

It seems to The Punt that Sinn Fein has little to learn from the other parties in Leinster House when it comes to the old realpolitik.

Irish Independent

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