Sunday 21 January 2018

What it says in the papers: business pages

Paul O'Donoghue

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

Irish Independent

***Bus drivers have threatened sustained strike action in the weeks ahead, as businesses estimate that seven planned days of industrial action could cost up to €20m.

SIPTU drivers at Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann have voted to strike for four days next month. The workers will stage two 48-hour strikes on Friday and Saturday, May 1 and 2, and Friday and Saturday, May 15 and 16.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), as well as intending to strike on those four days, says it plans a further three days of action on May 29, 30 and 31.

***Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe is still awaiting a report by the Government’s working group into the potential sale of the State’s stake in Aer Lingus.  

Mr Donohoe said he will examine the contents of the report closely before bringing a recommendation to Cabinet on whether to proceed with the IAG deal.

Speaking at a Tourism Ireland event in Dublin City, Mr Donohoe said he will not allow negotiations to continue “indefinitely”. But he said patience was required given the sensitivities at play.

***A standard approach to so-called cooling-off periods for departing senior public servants should be put in place to improve transparency, Fianna Fáil’s Finance spokesman Michael McGrath said yesterday.

The call came as John Corrigan, the former head of the state’s debt management body, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), is expected to be formally announced as the new chairman of Davy Stockbrokers in the coming days.

Mr Corrigan was himself replaced at the NTMA by former NCB stockbroker Conor O’Kelly in January after the former served a five-year term during which he oversaw the country’s return to the international markets.

Irish Times

***A $300m fibre optics cable between New York and Mayo is set to go ahead after the promoters secured a multimillion euro loan and planning permission.

According to the Irish Times, company documents recently filed by Dublin-based Aqua Comms show that it has agreed a $125m loan with international banking firm Nomura International.

The initial phase of the project, which is set to land at Kilala, is expected to cost $300m with construction slated to begin in the summer.

***Irish listed Tullow Oil is to lay off roughly a third of its 140 Dublin staff, according to the Irish Times.

The paper reports that although there had been rumours that up to 40pc of the workforce could lose their jobs, the oil and gas explorer said that the actual number set to go is “about 46”.

Those staff who are affected were informed of the decision last week. The move is one of a series  of cost-cutting moves  recently implemented by Tullow, which has looked to reduce its cost base amid falling oil prices.

***The ECB has urged the Irish Government to speed up the sale of bonds from the former Anglo Irish Bank.

The organisation said that moves by the State to get rid of bonds held after the liquidation of Anglo’s successor the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation were a step in the right direction.

However, in its annual report for 2014 the ECB added that a “more ambitious sales schedule” for the sale of IBRC bonds “would further mitigate the persisting serious monetary financing concerns”.

Irish Examiner

***Over €1.3bn could be added to the Government deficit over a three year period if a Eurostat decision on Irish Water goes against the Coalition.

The embattled utility has been temporarily placed on Government books pending a decision from the European statistics agency Eurostat on whether the State will need to provide more funding to the organisation or not.

Statistics published in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty show that a negative ruling could see the Government have to stump up an extra €580m this year and a further €395m next year.

***The budget deficit will fall to below 2pc this year as tax revenues come in more than €2bn ahead of target for the year, Goodbody stockbrokers has said.

It said the deficit will fall back to 1.9pc this year – well ahead of the 2.7pc expected by the Government and well within the below 3pc target laid down by Europe.

In its latest economic assessment, Goodbody said the Government could have an easier budget, with attention focused on lower income tax to incentivise work, capital spending and targeted tax breaks for housing and entrepreneurs.

***Irish stock market listed mining company Kenmare Resources has pulled some staff out of Mozambique as a precaution following anti-immigrant riots in South Africa.

Kenmare Resources said yesterday that it had temporarily repatriated 62 South African members of the workforce at the Moma Mine, “as a precautionary measure.”

The move was prompted by fears a wave of anti-immigrant violence in South Africa could spark revenge attacks in neighbouring Mozambique where Kenmare operates a major mine.

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