Wednesday 21 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

*The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been severely criticised by its own internal watchdog for being too close to the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission during the bailouts for Ireland, Greece and Portugal.

In a hard-hitting assessment the IMF's own staff said it needs to shield itself from political influence that could compromise its independence when assessing nations in crisis.

The IMF has been criticised since the start of the financial crisis over perceptions that EU member states were treated less robustly than was the norm for third world countries that have needed rescue deals.

*Undertaking a stock market flotation "isn't a goal in itself" for Irish engineering solutions firm Actavo, as its revenues approach €500m this year, according to chief executive and chairman Sean Corkery.

Chief executive Sean Corkery conceded that while there's an attraction to doing a flotation, it also has downsides.

"You've got the 13-week treadmill, everything is out there, you've got to hit your numbers and it's hard to be strategic," he said.

"The attraction of it is that the cost of money from a financing point of view is the lowest you can get. It would have to be for absolute need for a quantum of money, probably by a sizeable acquisition, that would trigger something like that."

*The State looks set to recoup further cash from AIB through dividends even if a planned stock market sale continues to be delayed.

AIB chief executive Bernard Byrne said yesterday that the bank will begin discussions on dividend payments with the Central Bank and with the Department of Finance after paying back its State rescue loans. The bank will have a "clear dividend policy", prior to any share sale, he said.

With AIB 99.98pc State-owned, the Government will be the only substantially beneficiary, if dividends are resumed prior to a share sale.

The Irish Times

*Retail sales fell 5.8pc month-on-month in June, an unexpected decline.

New CSO figures show an exception to the general trend was the pub trade, where the European Football Championships helped sales surge.

Excluding car sales, a volatile component of the figures, retail sales fell 1pc in the period.

*The owners of the Mater Private hospital have put a sale of the business on hold and are looking to refinance loans associated with it.

German group Fresenius was close to a deal to buy the hospital but did not proceed because of strategic objections from the Fresenius board, the newspaper reports.

Seamus Fitzpatrick's CapVest owns 51pc of the Mater Private.

*Ardmore Studios is back in the black after strong demand for studio space fuelled a second successive year of profits.

The company made €1.35m last year, moving its cumulative profit and loss account into surplus.

Chief executive Siun Ni Raghallaigh said the company saw evidence of a strong pipeline of future demand.

Irish Examiner

*The Eurozone economy has stayed resilient to the Brexit shock according to fresh economic data.

European economic sentiment increased in July, and German unemployment fell more than expected.

The figures are in contrast to UK data that showed retailers had suffered the steepest fall in sales in four years after the vote.

*Rupert Murdoch's Sky said revenue would rise more than expected in the year ahead due to a focus on innovation and top-class sport.

The group reported a 12pc rise in profit for its last financial year.

It has been looking to earn more  from its existing customer base through new offerings and price hikes.

*Uncertainty over trade deals in the aftermath of the Brexit vote could have long-term negative effects on farmers, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association warned.

Its president John Comer said the negative impacts of any new deals would be passed back to farmers, warning that with 65 million fewer consumers, future deals would look different for the EU.

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