Saturday 20 January 2018

Danske Bank U-turn on plans to sell off Irish properties as portfolio

Danske Bank will sell a batch of Irish properties individually rather than in a single transaction as it had planned, as the biggest Danish lender reduces its holdings here.

The properties, including residential and commercial assets, won't be sold as a portfolio, said spokeswoman Caroline Douglas.

Danske Bank is winding down much of its Irish operation after suffering losses when the country's real-estate market collapsed in 2007. In addition to selling real estate, the Copenhagen-based company said last week that it will pull out of retail and small-business banking.

Green REIT, the investment firm backed by hedge fund Paulson & Co, said it has exchanged contracts to buy a €126.7m property portfolio from Danske Bank.

WETHERSPOON'S EXPANSION PLAN BOOSTED BY SALES

HOSPITALITY

JD Wetherspoon, which plans to open pubs here later this year, posted a strong rise in first-quarter sales in the UK and pushed up its expansion target to as many as 50 new pubs for the full-year.

The firm, which has grown to over 880 pubs in Britain on the back of popular value-led food and drinks deals, said sales at pubs open at least a year had risen 3.7pc in the 13 weeks to October 27, with total sales up 7.6pc.

It said new pub openings in its 2013-2014 fiscal year would be 40 to 50, ahead of previous guidance for 30 new sites, helped by an increased bank facility and recent acquisitions.

In September, Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said the group is planning to open its first pubs in Ireland this year.

Wetherspoon said yesterday its operating margin slipped 30 basis points to 8.3pc in the quarter, due to increased labour, repairs and marketing costs.

The group said the figure was a likely indicator for the full year, representing a slight fall from the 8.7pc margin achieved in 2012-2013.

Shares have risen about 40pc in the past 12 months, valuing the business at just over £890m (€1.06bn).

RYANAIR FORKS OUT €57M TO BUY

ITS OWN SHARES

AVIATION

Ryanair has spent over €57m buying back 10 million of its own shares after the stock slumped, following a profit warning this week.

The airline told the stock exchange it bought the shares for €5.75 each. The shares will be cancelled – a move that improves earnings metrics.

Ryanair shares slumped nearly 13pc on Monday after it issued its second profit warning in as many months. The shares were up 2.5pc immediately after yesterday's buyback announcement.

Meanwhile, a Belgian labour court has upheld a 2007 ruling that any dispute related to contracts of employment at Ryanair should be heard by Irish courts, marking an important victory for the airline.

Ryanair said yesterday that the Chaleroi Labour Court had dismissed a case brought against it by a former crew member who had accused it of breaches of labour law.

But Ryanair said the court dismissed the case, "which confirmed that Ryanair crew are employed on Irish contracts, operate on Irish-registered aircraft and pay their taxes in Ireland".

"Ryanair welcomes this ruling, which upholds the EU regulations governing mobile transport workers," said a spokesman for the airline.

NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING PHYSICIST

TO GIVE FREE PUBLIC LECTURE IN DCU

SCIENCE

Nobel prize-winning physicist Professor Serge Haroche will give a free public lecture at DCU on Monday at 11am.

The 2012 Nobel laureate, who is credited with opening a new domain of research at the frontier between physics and information science, is likely to be of huge interest to technologists, business people and the general public.

The lecture, Shedding New Light on Schrodinger's Cat, is aimed at the general public and will offer insights into quantum physics and how its applications can transform lives now and in the future.

For those who cannot attend, the talk will be streamed to a worldwide audience on Magnet.ie.

Online access means that pupils in schools around the country will be able to watch the lecture live.

BMW STANDS BY 'LONG-TERM' PLAN AS PROFITS FALTER

AUTOMOBILES

BMW, the world's biggest maker of luxury vehicles, forecast weaker profitability in the fourth quarter after investments to roll out new models like the i3 electric car weighed on results.

Spending will exceed targets this year and continue at a high rate in 2014 as BMW broadens its line-up and builds new factories, the company said.

The outlays led to third-quarter earnings before interest and taxes falling 3.7pc to €1.93bn.

"Our target is to assure the long-term competitiveness of the BMW group," chief financial officer Friedrich Eichiner said. "That is more important than short-term profit."

The maker of BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce vehicles failed to keep pace with earnings gains at Volkswagen and Daimler.

"BMW is developing the battery-powered i3 city car and the plug-in hybrid i8 sports car to introduce its eco-friendly "i" sub-brand. The expansion is part of the company's effort to maintain an edge over Audi and Mercedes-Benz, which have vowed to surpass BMW sales by the end of the decade.

TIME WARNER

BEATS ANALYSTS'

Q3 ESTIMATES

MEDIA

Time Warner, owner of cable channels TNT, CNN and HBO, reported a third-quarter profit that surpassed analysts' estimates after its television networks benefited from higher programming fees and advertising.

Excluding some items, earnings were a better-than-expected $1.01 a share in the period, the New York-based company said. Analysts had predicted 89 cents on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Pay-TV companies such as Comcast and DirecTV are paying more to carry Time Warner programming, whether it's 'Game of Thrones' on HBO or college basketball and professional baseball games on TNT and TBS. That revenue climbed 4pc in the quarter.

Advertising grew 11pc, bringing the company's total sales from that division to $3.5bn (€2.6bn).

Chief executive Jeffrey Bewkes has focused Time Warner's growth strategy on its TV business, which accounts for more than 70pc of operating income. After spinning off AOL and Time Warner Cable in recent years, he's now offloading the magazine publisher 'Time'.

Irish Independent

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