Sunday 18 February 2018

What it says in the papers: business pages

The front page of this morning's Irish Independent business section
The front page of this morning's Irish Independent business section
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

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

Irish Independent

*Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has got off to a good start to the long weekend - waking up €15m richer this morning.

The airline chief is one of the major beneficiaries of a €398m windfall being dished out to Ryanair's shareholders, using the proceeds of the sale of its 29.8pc stake in Aer Lingus to British Airways owner IAG.

Shareholders in Ryanair overwhelmingly approved the cash distribution at a meeting at the airline's HQ near Dublin Airport yesterday morning - an event which was, unusually, off limits to the media.

*The financial regulator was 'getting nervous' about FBD before it entered into a €70m agreement to sell a bond to Canadian financial holdings company Fairfax and sell its real estate assets, chief executive Fiona Muldoon said.

Shareholders backed the proposal to sell hotels at an extraordinary general meeting in the Irish Farm Centre yesterday where Ms Muldoon refused to fully rule out office closures.

"Some of the branch managers have said 'you know, we're hearing rumours'. I have been very clear, we will have to take cuts. But I have been very clear that this first phase is €7m, which is about 100 people and that the first phase does not involve closing offices," Ms Muldoon said.

*Limerick brothers John and Patrick Collison have been named as the EY Entrepreneurs of the Year 2015 at a glittering awards ceremony at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin.

Still in their 20s, the pair co-founded California-based Stripe in 2010 with financial backing from technology sector heavyweights like PayPal founders Elon Musk and Peter Thiel.

The Collisons' online payments company is now tipped to become a global brand.

The Irish Times

*Denis O'Brien's Digicel faces a battle with US billionaire John Malone, who is in talks to acquire Digicel's rival Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) via his Liberty Global group.

The deal would be worth around €5.1bn. Shares in CWC leapt by a fifth yesterday.

*Standard Life shareholders won't be pursued for tax on a "return of value" after a u-turn from Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

Irish shareholders in the insurer faced a large bill after forms allowing them to choose between receiving a payout as income - leading to a higher tax bill -  or capital got lost in the post.

The default option was income. Mr Noonan had previously signalled that he wouldn't grant shareholders relief.

*Canada has opened its doors to Irish and European beef for the first time in 19 years.

Irish exports there had been banned after the BSE crisis.

Separately Ireland has reached a deal with Oman on a health certificate that will allow beef and sheep meat to be exported there.

Irish Examiner

*Officials from Chinese economic powerhouse Shanghai said the city's twinng link with Cork has been one of its most successful.

Import-export business between the cities has been more than doubled since 2010 to €1.88bn.

The officials said they see potential for more growth and want to work with Irish businesses.

*Only 11pc of the €400m in the Government's SME loan fund has been drawn down  in the first four months of the scheme.

The fund - the Strategic Bank Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) is designed to lend to SMEs at a low cost.

The figures - revealed by Finance Minister Michael Noonan in a parliamentary answer - show 85pc of the loans have been taken by the agriculture sector.

*Support for Britain remaining in the EU has plunged after an influx of migrants into Europe pushed voters towards the exit, polling company Ipsos Mori said yesterday.

Support for a "Brexit" rose to 39pc - the highest since 2012 - slashing the lead of the 'In' campaign to 13 percentage points - from 34 in June.

A "Brexit" would do major damage to the Irish economy - many analysts have warned.

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