Business Irish

Friday 23 February 2018

Business pages: what it says in the papers Newsdesk Newsdesk

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

Irish Independent

*There are fears that there could be heavy losses at Ladbrokes Irish arm as the betting chain says that it is looking at taking “drastic action” a part of an urgent review of its loss-making business here.

The company has just under 200 outlets across the country employing about 1,000 people. Profits at the firm tumbled by 57pc to €6m in 2014 across the island of Ireland, while the stores in the Republic were said to be loss-making.

A spokesman said the company would now be “looking at what urgent action it could take”. The UK betting chain also closed 13 of its stores across the Republic last year.

*Salaries are rising across the board for the first time in four years with those in the financial sector seeing the biggest gain.

Preliminary estimates show that average weekly earnings were €704.34 in the last quarter of 2014, a 2.3pc increase from €688.78 on the same period a year earlier. The financial, insurance and real estate sector saw the largest boost where salaries jumped by more than 9pc from €976.15 to €1,069.56.

*Unions have said that the news that Cadbury’s is set to shed more than 220 jobs at its Irish operations has come as  a “major shock”.

Siptu representatives reacted with dismay after the company announced that it is to cut hundreds of positions across three of its plants in Dublin and Kerry.

Irish Times

*Minister for Children James Reilly is moving to block any company with a link to tobacco firms from tendering to work for agencies that fall under his area of responsibility, the Irish Times reports.

This would include the child and family agency Tusla which currently works closely with law firm Arthur Cox.  The law firm has recently drawn the ire of the Minister due to the fact that the company has solicitors working as legal advisors to Tusla and is also working for Japan Tobacco, which is threatening to sue the State over over Minister Reilly’s plans to introduce plain cigarette packaging.

Arthur Cox currently handles roughly €12m in annual legal expenditure for the child and family agency while the corporate element of the legal company’s work for Tusla is worth €800,000 a year.

Dr Reilly’s department is now examining whether it will be possible to ask agencies in future tenders to sign a declaration which says that they have no contractual links with tobacco companies.

*Bailed-out bank Permanent TSB is considering raising roughly half a billion euros from external investors, the Irish Times reports.

The bank would raise the money with the aim of repaying the State’s €400m in contingent capital notes.

Permanent TSB had previously been expected to raise between €300m and €400m, but has raised its expectations on the back of strong interest from international investors during roadshows.

*The Government had drawn up contingency plans in case the euro had collapsed during the darkest days of the Eurozone debt crisis in 2011, the Irish Times reports.

In an interview with the newspaper, Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin indicated that the Government was looking at re-introducing the punt and said there were plans to increase security at banks.

This was done when Italy’s financial stability  was at the centre of serious concerns across the Eurozone shortly after the coalition entered office.

Irish Examiner

*13 of Ireland’s senior boom-time bankers are set to be hauled in before the Oireachtas banking inquiry to answer questioning in April, the Irish Examiner reports.

The 13 are set to be the first witnesses to be compelled to attend the inquiry after being legally ordered to do so.

Among those set to attend the inquiry include current Bank of Ireland CEO Richie Boucher and his predecessor Brian Goggin as well as current NAMA chief Brendan McDonagh.

*An Irish energy company has landed a contract to build a €2bn windfarm off the Scottish coast.

Wind and solar energy firm Mainstream, headed up by former Airtricity founder Eddie O’Connor, yesterday secured a 15 year contract for its 450MW Neart na Goathe windfarm in the North Sea.

*Ireland’s biggest company CRH is set to continue its spending spree after its recent massive €6.5bn buy of assets from European rivals Lafarge and Holcim.

The paper reports that almost €1bn in capital made from operations in 2014 is set to fund a string of smaller deals for the building company.

The Dublin-based company yesterday announced its 2014 annual results which showed that its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation climbed 11pc to €1.64bn.

Financial Times

*Royal Bank of Scotland, the parent company of Ulster Bank, has revealed measures to cut costs and boost capital in an attempt to speed up a sale  of the British government’s 80pc  shareholding.

The plans were announced yesterday after the company’s 2014 results revealed that it made a net loss of £3.5bn last year.

Measures to be taken include cutting staff bonuses and shedding risky assets in the bank.

*A continuing fall in oil prices has helped  drag the US into deflation for the first time since 2009.

The consumer price index fell by 0.1pc on a year by year basis in January according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, who said  that the fall was driven “overwhelmingly” by the falling price of petrol.

However, results were stronger than had been expected, with areas such as core service costs rising 2.5pc and clothing prices up 0.3pc.

*Shares in UK banking and financial services giant StanChart were up 5.4pc yesterday after investment banker Bill Winters was unveiled as the company’s new chief executive.

He replaces Peter Sands after months of pressure from shareholders for a restructuring of the company’s boardroom.

Although Mr Sands helped the company to navigate the economic downturn, shares in the firm have nearly halved since a run of double digit growth earnings ended in 2013 and three profit warnings have been issued in the past year.

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