Monday 19 March 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

*Almost €1bn will be available to Finance Minister Michael Noonan for October's budget - but a leading bank is warning it may not be enough to stave off a General Election.

A source told the Irish Independent that "on current trajectory there will be more than €1bn to play with on Budget day, compared to the €500m predicted during the election".

However, specialist bank Investec has told investors to expect another general election before the year is out, warning that the minority Government is precarious.

"The minority Government has the worst of both worlds - all of the responsibility but no power to push through its preferred legislative programme," the Investec note said.

*Stock market-listed Wireless Group - the new name for the old UTV's radio assets - is planning to cut costs by £3m (€3.88m) next year, it can be revealed.

The portfolio of 22 radio stations, including U105 in Belfast and Q102 in Dublin, was rebranded as Wireless Group following ITV's £100m deal to buy Ulster Television and UTV Ireland from UTV Media plc.

*The State should get rid of its stakes in the banks at a faster rate to foster competition and ultimately drive down mortgage interest rates, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has said.

In its latest economic assessment, the think-tank questioned why there wasn't more competition in the Irish banking sector given the recovery in the economy. It also said that the political push to force the Central Bank to drive down interest rates was not the way to go.

Kieran McQuinn, ESRI associate research professor, speculated that it could be as much as a result of the state involvement in the sector, as the fact the market is dominated by two major players.

Asked if he was in favour of the Government's timetable for selling the banks, Mr McQuinn said: "If anything, I'd make it quicker."

The Irish Times

*The ESRI cut its forecast for full-year Irish economic growth on foot of a slowdown in the UK ahead of the Brexit vote.

The Institute sees growth of 4.6pc this year, down from a previous forecast of 4.8pc.

However, it said Ireland is poised to remain the Eurozone's fastest-growing economy.

*The Iseq index of Irish shares rose the most in a day for over six years amid rising expectation that Britain will vote to remain in the European Union.

The 4.5pc leap was the biggest jump since May 2010 - months before the bailout.

Paddy Power Betfair was the biggest gainer at almost 8pc.

*Enterprise Ireland-affiliated companies posted €20bn in exports for the first time ever in 2015.

The value of exports jumped 10pc to €20.6bn.

Enterprise Ireland boss Julie Sinnamon said growth was recorded across all sectors, and that diversification into high-growth areas is a focus for the agency's clients.

Irish Examiner

*Irish firms drew down €172m from the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) in the first ten months of the SBCI's existence.

Over 4,500 SMEs got an average of €37,000 from the State-backed financing company.

The SBCI said the loans supported 17,000 Irish jobs last year.

*AIB has now secured €1.19m from properties previously owned by Wexford TD Mick Wallace.

The bank got €150,000 from the sale of a Temple Bar apartment, and over €30,000 in rental income from a Wallace firm's property portfolio.

At its peak Mr Wallace's construction business was worth €80m.

*Microsoft insisted it complies with tax rules worldwide after a report that it has avoided up to €130m in a year in UK corporation tax by booking sales through Ireland.

The company said its UK arm earns a commission for performing services for Microsoft Ireland and pays tax on income earned in the UK.

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