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Business pages: what the papers say

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Here are the business stories you need to know about this morning:

Irish Independent

* The former chief executive of RSA Insurance's Irish arm felt he was "thrown under the bus" after he was suspended while the company was investigating financial irregularities.

Philip Smith, who resigned as head of the Irish division in November 2013, is taking a constructive dismissal case against his former employer at the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

He said the company had been left without financial security after the Irish division releasing over €250m in reserves to support the group, "under group direction".

RSA is expected to robustly defend the case.

*Banks are applying to the courts to repossess nearly 1,000 homes a month.

Figures given to the Central Bank by the banks show there has been a 10-fold rise in the number of repossession proceedings issued in the courts by all the banks since 2013.

It's a much higher figure than that reported by the Courts Service.

*Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin warned banks that must engage with customers in arrears instead of pushing them towards bankruptcy.

Government sources said a number of options are being considered to tackle the arrears crisis, including a Labour PArty proposal to reduce the maximum bankruptcy term from three years to one.

"Not all banks are engaging as they should, and that's not good enough from the Government's perspective," Mr Howlin said.

*Food group Aryzta is close to a deal to sell its Carroll Cuisine unit to a group backed by a State-financed private equity fund.

The unit is best known for its ham and convenience foods and as a sponsor of the Offaly hurling team.

The planned management-led buyout is led Carroll director Kieran Carolan, chief operating officer John Comerford and financial director Fiona Delaney, the newspaper understands.

*Supermac's owner Pat McDonagh plans a €1m upgrade of the Charleville Park Hotel in north Cork.

Mr McDonagh announced he bought the hotel yesterday.

He said he was "delighted to be safeguarding jobs locally which may otherwise have been lost".

*Talks on economic reforms in Greece begin tomorrow with international lenders after the country was warned to stop time-wasting.

The discussions involving the ECB, IMF and European Commission are to take place in Brussels but negotiators will work in parallel with representatives of the bodies in Athens also.

The decision was made at a meeting of Eurozone finance ministers in Brussels yesterday, after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chair of the Eurogroup, said little had been done in the two weeks since a four-month extension to the country's bailout was agreed.

With the extension in place, debt-riddled Greece needs to come up with a range of reforms agreeable to Europe to unlock cash from lenders, or the country risks running out of money.

The Irish Times

*Retailers are rowing over the extent of problems with the National Lottery's new technology platform.

Retailer's representative group the Agent Council said there had been teething issues but that these were being exaggerated.

An Agent Council spokesman said the group was confident the Lottery is committed to resolving the issues.

*RTE unveiled a a new digital strategy as part of its efforts to keep up with changing customer behaviour.

Director general Noel Curran said competition with the likes of Netflix and Youtube is increasing and that RTE wants to be "fully integrated".

The broadcaster will upgrade its radio studios with cameras allowing for more "visualisation" of radio programmes.

Muirne Laffan, managing director of RTE Digital, said the plan was about reallocating RTE's current budget rather than getting new funds.

*Paper and packaging maker Smurfit Kappa has expanded into South America after buying packaging company CYBSA.

The Irish-listed company said the deal would immediately increase its earnings.

CYBSA has five plants across El Salvador and Costa Rica.

Irish Examiner

*Irish-based researchers are part of a team that will get €1m to research ways to improve mobile phones' battery life.

Scientists at UCC, DCU, Queen's and the University of Texas are working together on the three-year project.

A third of the money will come from Science Foundation Ireland.

*Munster employers are most optimistic about creating jobs, according to the latest survey by employment agency Manpower.

The employment outlook for the province increased by 10 percentage points on the last survey.

Companies in the transport, storage and communications sector expect the highest growth of the 11 sectors the study surveyed.

*Flights between Waterford Airport and London Luton to resume at the end of next month.

The airport had no direct flights to London after Aer Lingus Regional pulled out two years ago.

The new service to and from London Luton will be operated by Belgium-based VLM Airlines.

Financial Times

*UK bookies fear Irish trainer Willie Mullins will wreak havoc on their businesses at the Cheltenham Festival, which begins today.

Mr Mullins trains the favourites for all of the top races today.

Bookmakers William Hill, which has lost millions on recent football results, said it could be one of the "darkest days" in the history of jump racing.

*Eurozone central bankers bought Government bonds at negative yields yesterday as the ECB began its gigantic quantitative easing programme.

The move will see the banks lose money if they hold on to the bonds until they mature.

Bonds eligible for the scheme were trading at negative yields in Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Slovakia.

Online Editors