What it says in the papers: business pages
HERE are the main business stories from this morning's papers:
***The Government wants to put billions in taxpayers’ money back into a special fund in a bid to defuse the pensions ‘timebomb’.
Pressure is set to grow as the cost of State pensions will soar by €200m per year until 2026. Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin warned of a massive pensions crisis because of an aging population and higher life expectancy.
Mr Howlin’s warning came as the Government unveiled its much heralded economic Spring Statement pitch of €1.5bn tax cuts and additional spending measures to voters ahead of the next election.
***Ryanair has been targeted in an international scam that siphoned millions from its bank accounts, the Irish Independent understands.
It is believed that thieves managed to initiate a single fraudulent transaction using a Chinese bank that stole the money from the airline, Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier and Ireland’s second biggest company.
Ryanair confirmed last night that it had been hit by the substantial fraud and that it has investigated a “fraudulent electronic transfer via a Chinese bank last week”.
***Billions of euro in AIB’s remaining bailout loans could be converted into shares and ultimately offered to the public along with the rest of the bank’s stock.
The possible conversion a €3.5bn State bailout loan into ordinary shares in AIB is one option under discussion as part of a move to overhaul the bank’s capital structure ahead of a possible share sale.
Talks are under way between the Government and AIB on an appropriate capital structure for the bank. The talks are focused on options in relation to the €3.5bn of so-called preference shares, a type of loan, including possibly converting some or all of the debt into bank shares, AIB chairman Richard Pym said.
***Apple is considering funding at least six Irish renewable energy projects to support its planned €850m data centre in Galway, according to the Irish Times.
The tech giant is looking for partners for several green energy projects that will be up to 50 MW in size each. The data centre in Galway will require an estimated 300 MW of power.
The newspaper reports that the total new investment from the renewable projects could be as high as €400m.
***Irish-based drug giant Shire has said that it is “very comfortable” with its tax policies.
Management was asked by activist shareholders at the company’s AGM if Shire’s audit committee had looked at the firm’s tax practices. The shareholder said that Shire’s effective tax rate was less than 2pc, paying $56.1m tax on $3.34bn in profits.
Shire chairwoman Susan Kilsby said that the company had a duty “to maintain tax affairs in a way to minimise uncertainty and that allows us to plan for the future.”
***House prices are on the up again despite efforts by the Central Bank to stem rises by introducing mortgage lending restrictions.
New figures show prices up almost 1pc across the country in March. Prices are now almost 17pc higher when compared with a year ago.
In Dublin, prices rose by 1.1pc in March, according to the new data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Outside of Dublin, residential property prices rose by 0.7pc, with prices up almost 11pc compared with last year.
***Ulster Bank is the latest major lender in the hunt for a new chief executive after parent Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) scooped Jim Brown to head a new UK bank.
Mr Brown is leaving to lead the spin-out of new UK banking brand Williams & Glyn from RBS. He will replace John Maltby as chief executive of the revived banking brand, which is being set up to become a new UK “challenger” bank.
***Hotel operator Dalata is considering a role in the redevelopment of the former Berkeley Court and Jurys Hotels in Dublin.
The site holding the two hotels went on the market last week and is expected to fetch between €120m and €150m. It has planning permission for a new hotel and hundreds of apartments.
Dalata chief executive Pat McCann said that, although the firm is not in a position to do a deal right now, the deal is the only one that the company is interested in exploring at the moment due to uncertainty over what may come on the market during the rest of the year.