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Colm Kelpie: Business week in 60 seconds

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VODAFONE POSTER BOY: F1 driver Lewis Hamilton

VODAFONE POSTER BOY: F1 driver Lewis Hamilton

VODAFONE POSTER BOY: F1 driver Lewis Hamilton

THE broadband market in Ireland could be in for a shake-up as Vodafone may be about to team up with the ESB for the rollout of a new €400m fibre broadband network.

It emerged this week that the mobile giant was in exclusive negotiations with the power company over the proposed deal.

The utility company has been seeking a commercial telecoms partner for more than a year to help it with the development of the new fibre network.

The proposed deal, which will see the ESB's electricity lines being used to deliver fibre broadband, could see Vodafone going head-to-head with Eircom and UPC as a standalone fibre broadband provider.

BOUCHER JOKE RUFFLES FEATHERS

Oooh, controversial. Bank of Ireland's Richie Boucher ensured he was one of the more memorable contributors to the IBEC CEO conference on Wednesday.

In his speech to business leaders in Dublin's Convention Centre, Mr Boucher said too much competition and a lack of discipline in the market in the boom led banks into unsustainable lending.

"At a wild party even good girls can get into trouble," he said.

The comment provoked a reaction from Sinn Fein's Dublin EU candidate Lynn Boylan, who described the remarks as "belittling".

"Likening the Bank of Ireland's reckless lending practices to that of a good girl getting herself into trouble at a wild party is offensive on so many levels," she said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who also attended the conference, told delegates that his Government had been probably the most pro-business of any in the last 50 years.

KBC ANNOUNCES 200 NEW JOBS

Also on the banking front, although with a different subject matter, KBC Bank announced it would recruit 200 more staff here this year.

The Belgian-owned lender announced losses of €864m for 2013 on Thursday, driven by a €1.06bn impairment, or write-down in the value of assets, main property loans and mortgages.

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The bank intends to recruit a further 200 new staff this year and is rolling out new hubs or branches in Dublin's Grand Canal Dock and Stillorgan over the coming months.

Three more hubs are planned this year, which will take the total to 10.

ENERGY FIRM TO INVEST €3.1BN

Eddie O'Connor's Mainstream Renewable Power was in the headlines this week, after it announced plans for €3.1bn of new green energy products in four continents.

The planned projects in Canada, Chile, Scotland and South Africa will have a combined output of more than 1,000 megawatts, or enough to power half-a-million homes, the company said.

The planned schemes are in addition to six wind power and solar power projects that are either in operation or under construction.

FOOTBALL STAR NETS PROFIT IN SALE

WAIT for it. It's time for a few sickening soccer puns, because this week it was revealed that a former Irish schools football star was celebrating a win after netting a windfall from the sale of his stake in a UK loans company.

Waterford-born businessman Martin Dunphy announced the sale of his 20pc stake in Marlin Financial Group to Cabot Credit Management, a US company owned by medical debt buyer Encore Capital.

Private equity firm Duke Street, which bought a majority interest in Marlin in 2008, also sold its majority stake as part of the same deal. This values the loan company, which Dunphy started from the living room of his Wimbledon home in 2002, at £295m (€355m).


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