Monday 18 December 2017

Business edition: What it says in the papers reporters

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

Irish Independent

*The Labour Party is on the verge of sinking IAG’s bid for Aer Lingus. Party members will vote on an emergency motion opposing the sale of the Government’s stake in the airline.

If the motion is passed it will become party policy and Tanaiste Joan Burton will have no choice but to sink the deal.

*The Greek Government was last night preparing economic reform plans to help secure its bailout extension.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has faced pressure from the hard left of his party who say he let voters down in agreeing to an extension.

Meanwhile, a Cantor Fitzgerald Ireland analyst said the extension would be a relief to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, as any debt concessions granted to Greece would have reflected poorly on the Irish Government’s debt relief efforts.

*The Ukrainian crisis is dampening investment in Central and Eastern Europe, according to Kingspan chief executive Gene Murtagh.

Shares in the Cavan-based building materials company rose yesterday after it reported better than expected results for 2014.

Conditions in the core UK and US markets continue to improve but the picture across the rest of Europe is more mixed, Mr Murtagh said.

*Property company Green REIT is to pay its first-ever dividend to shareholders.

The payout will total €6.1m, with the company posting profits of €74.3m in the six months to the end of December.

*Apple’s plan to build a gigantic new data centre in Athenry, Co Galway has been attacked by anti-wind campaigners.

The tech giant told the Irish Independent that it hasn’t yet decided what renewable energy sources it will use, saying it is too early in the project, but the company said it would “work with local partners” to explore the use of “wind or other sources”.

The Financial Times

*The idea that Dublin could act as third Heathrow runway for IAG if Aer Lingus is sold has been dismissed by Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye.

IAG advisors have said diverting some transatlantic passengers to Dublin would free up space at London’s congested airport.

But Mr Holland-Kaye said the plan wouldn’t work and that the only way to meet London’s needs is to expand Heathrow.

*Opec members have considered calling an emergency meeting if the price of oil continues to fall, Nigeria’s oil minister said.

The comments indicate members’ fear over the effect of low oil prices on their economies.

The Irish Times

 *Department of Finance officials were concerned about the Central Bank’s new mortgage caps, records show.

A document warned that the caps would increase demand in the private rental market, possibly driving rents up further.

However, officials did say there was a sound rationale behind the proposals.

*Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said he was “optimistic” that Greece’s proposed reform package would be acceptable.

Officials said talks between Athens and its creditors were going better than expected yesterday.

A crackdown on cigarette and fuel smuggling and  tax evasion are among measures expected to be unveiled by the Syriza-led government.

*A number of bankers and financial advisors could be prosecuted in the UK if France allows the British government to use files leaked from the Swiss arm of HSBC , which is currently embroiled in a tax evasion scandal.

The two governments are close to a deal that would permit the information to be passed to prosecution authorities.

Aiding and abetting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance is expected to shortly be made a criminal offence in Britain.

HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver said past practices of the bank’s Geneva-based arm are a source of shame and reputational damage to HSBC.

Irish Examiner

*The Irish tourism sector is being hurt because the Government isn’t investing enough, the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) annual conference was told.

Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland have lost around €25m through cuts.

IHF president Stephen McNally called for the cuts to be reversed, saying the alternative is to restrict the sector’s capacity to grow.

*As many as a fifth of Irish hotels and guesthouses aren’t making a profit after capital and interest payments, IHF chief executive Tim

Fenn said.

Many lower-tier hotels haven’t done enough restructuring of their business and continue to have bank debts hanging over them.

The IHF figures indicate that debt restructuring of as much as €1.4bn will be needed to make the industry’s debt level sustainable.


*Around €3bn in deposits left Greek banks last week, JP Morgan estimates indicate.

The previous week’s figure was €2bn.

The jump came as talks over extending Greece’s bailout went to the wire.

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