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What it says in the papers: business pages


Today's front page of the Irish Independent business section

Today's front page of the Irish Independent business section

Today's front page of the Irish Independent business section

Here are the main business stories from this morning's papers:

Irish Independent

***Bust developer Sean Dunne is currently involved in a $14m (€12.9m) construction project in the US, a bankruptcy official has alleged.

Another home he is alleged to have built, in the millionaire’s enclave of Greenwich, Connecticut, is also on the market for $5m (€4.6m).

The claims were made as bankruptcy trustee Richard Coan applied to a court seeking the recovery of tens of millions of euro in assets the Carlow-born developer is alleged to have “fraudulently transferred” to his wife, former gossip columnist Gayle Killilea.

***The chief executive of Aer Lingus has stepped up his bid to persuade unions to support the proposed takeover by IAG, insisting it would create jobs and significant growth opportunities.

Stephen Kavanagh said any job losses as a result of the takeover would be “significantly outnumbered” by new positions created “within a short period of time”.

And he pledged to support the introduction of binding agreements on pay and conditions – which has previously been demanded by Labour TDs.

***A slowdown in the growth of construction activity here could end up hurting Ireland’s ability to attract foreign direct investment, Davy stockbrokers has warned.

It said there is not only a lack of housing, but also of prime office space in Dublin. Experts blame lack of finance as a main cause of the slowdown in the pace of growth in commercial development.

The most recent data for the construction sector signalled a slowdown in the pace of growth of construction of housing, as well as in the commercial sector.


Irish Times

***One of the world’s largest tobacco firms has launched a legal bid to halt the Government’s controversial plain packaging measures.

Japan Tobacco International formally lodged papers in the High Court yesterday against the State. The cigarette giant had previously threatened legal action to prevent plain packaging legislation being enacted.

The legislation to ban all branded packaging by 2017 was recently signed into law by President Michael D Higgins. The Irish arm of JTI, JTI Ireland, is set to argue against the introduction of the legislation on the grounds of competence.

***Plans to designate Irish national rugby games as free-to-air are expected to be strongly opposed by Fine Gael Ministers, the Irish Times reports.

Communications Minister Alex White is to today propose that home matches in the Six Nations championship, the Ladies’ Football All-Ireland Final and Camogie All-Ireland final should be given free-to-air status, which will then start a public consultation process.

However, the newspaper reports that Fine Gael Ministers will likely be lobbied by the Irish Rugby Football Union to maintain the status quo for Six Nations matches.

***There are no settlement discussions currently under way between Irish Banking Resolution Corporation and former billionaire Sean Quinn, the Irish Times also reports.

The newspaper cites a source with “detailed knowledge of the matter” as saying that talks are ��not on the agenda”. This follows reports in a Sunday newspaper  which claimed that talks were “at an advanced stage”.

Both the Quinns and IBRC are currently taking legal cases against each other, with the Quinns suing for damages relating to IBRC’s seizure of their assets while IBRC is taking a case against the family alleging a conspiracy to prevent  the bank from seizing its large international property portfolio.


Irish Examiner

***Irish labour costs are at their lowest in years, with the country being just one of three EU states to show a reduction in wages last year.

Wages now stand at €29.80, which was  just above the EU average and seventh overall in the EU.

Denmark has the highest average hourly labour costs at €40.30, ahead of Belgium at €39.10. Bulgaria, Lithuania and Romania had the lowest figures, with the former at €3.80 per hour.

***Irish-based biopharmaceutical company Horizon Pharma has agreed to buy US rival Hyperion Therapeutics for $1.1bn (€1bn) to gain drugs to treat rare metabolic diseases.

The offer of $46 a share is a 7.6pc premium over Hyperion’s closing price of $42.74 a share on Friday.

The deal is expected to add to earnings immediately and will contribute about $100m in 2016 to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, Horizon said.

***Paddy Power could return as much as €800m to shareholders in the form of dividend payments over two years, the Irish Examiner reports.

Earlier this month the Dublin-based betting firm announced that it would return almost €400m to shareholders as it had not identified a way to justify spending its surplus cash.

In a report on the betting sector Davy Stockbrokers said: “Based on our forecasts, should Paddy Power raise debt at the end of 2016, to correspond to its new target gearing level, we estimate that it could return nearly €800m over two years between ordinary and special dividends.”


Financial Times

***Global dealmaking is up by more than a fifth in the first three months of the year compared to 2014, to $118bn according to the Financial Times.

The value of mergers and acquisitions is off to its fastest start since 2007, and has been boosted by an increase in healthcare buys.

Notable deals included yesterday's announcement that Dublin-headquartered Horizon Pharma is to buy Hyperion Therapeutics for $1.1bn. The biggest deal of the year so far has been US ketchup-maker Heinz’s takeover of consumer foods group Kraft, which is to create an entity worth more than $100m.

***Royal Bank of Scotland executive Rory Cullinan is to leave its investment bank at the end of April, the state-backed lender said only a month after putting him in charge of the business.

Cullinan, who was previously in charge of RBS's "bad bank" and had been praised for running down its unwanted assets more quickly than expected, was promoted to executive chairman of its Corporate and Institutional Bank on February 26.

The Financial Times reports that his departure is likely because of a disagreement over the implementation of strategy.

Online Editors