Monday 11 December 2017

What it says in the papers: business pages

Paul O'Donoghue

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

***There are no plans from Bank of Ireland nor Ulster Bank to cut the interest rates on their standard variable rate mortgages.

Even though AIB has signalled it plans to cut rates, its main competitors have remained defiant. Ulster Bank boss Jim Brown told TDs and Senators that its standard variable rate is “not overpriced”. And Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher said that while it keeps rates under review, it couldn’t give any commitment.

It comes just a day after Finance Minister Michael Noonan signalled in his Spring Statement that pressure would be brought to bear on the banks over the coming months.

***Veteran banker Mark Duffy, who once headed Bank of Scotland’s Irish arm, is close to finalising as much as €350m in funding from US and European investors for a new major commercial lending venture in Ireland, the Irish Independent has learned.

Mr Duffy and a band of former bankers, including people who also worked for Bank of Scotland here, plan to use the funds to facilitate up to €1bn in commercial lending to the Irish market over the next three years, it’s believed.

The plan is to challenge the pillar banks including Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks. The new venture is called LoanBox, and will use the funds to offer finance alternatives in Ireland, both north and south.

***RTÉ has been told to consider selling its flagship asset and headquarters in Donnybrook to help solve its financial problem.

Communications Minister Alex White recently published a review of the broadcaster’s finances and assets in the wake of a massive fall in advertising revenue since the recession.

The report found 40pc of the national broadcaster’s 30-acre Montrose campus in Dublin 4 is either undeveloped or used as a car park.

An internal RTÉ working group is currently examining the possibility of selling a portion of the site and is due to report to the minister in the summer.

***Tech giant Apple has said that it could face a hefty tax bill if the European Commission finds that it cut a tax deal with Ireland, the Irish Times reports.

In a filing to the US stock exchange Apple says that it could be asked to pay back taxes relating to a period of as much as ten years, which it says would be a “material” amount for the firm.

The European Commission launched an investigation into Apple’s tax affairs here last June, claiming that the firm struck a deal with the Irish Government in 1991 and 2007 to give it a  tax  advantage. Both Apple and Finance Minister Michael Noonan say that the case is without merit.

***A Dublin-headquartered real estate  fund manager had bought almost 30 stores in Germany for €95m, the Irish Times reports.

Greenman Investments, which specialises in buying retail assets, bought the 29 stores from Germany’s biggest grocer Edeka, which controls over a quarter of the german market.

Speaking to the newspaper, Greenman’s managing director John Wilkison said that the deal brings the value of the company’s retail assets to €270m. He added that the firm is currently looking to expand and nearly double its holding of retail assets to €500m by “this time next year”.

***Aer Lingus yesterday reported a loss of €48.4m during the first three months of 2015, saying that the results were broadly in line with seasonal expectations.

The airline recorded increased revenues of €280m, up 7.9pc from €259.4m compared to the same period last year.

The revenue growth was mainly spurred by a strong performance on its long-haul business. Long-haul fare revenue rose 39.6pc to €82.5m in the first quarter.

Irish Examiner

***Bank of Ireland’s defined benefit pension deficits have widened by €700m as a result of the knock-on effect of the European Central Bank’s mass bond-buying programme.

In its interim management statement, the bank said the impact of quantitative easing had pushed the discount rate used for the pension deficits down, pushing them to €1.7bn from about €1bn.

The bank said: “In general, the low interest rate environment presents the group with challenges, including lower yields on new liquid investments and the impact of a significantly lower AA corporate bond yield.”

***Infrastructure limits around the country are preventing the development of greenfield sites in areas such as Cork, the Irish Examiner reports.

delivering his first address as the new president for Cork Chamber of Commerce, Barrie O’Connell said that Cork has not seen a new greenfield development in years.

“In the last six or seven years in Cork we haven’t had a new greenfield site development in the advanced manufacturing area; no one new has come in,” he said.

***Tesco Ireland is worth over €3bn to the domestic economy, a new study has found.

The report, carried out by Indecon Economic Consultants, also found that the supermarket is the single biggest buyer of Irish food and drink in the country, snapping up €1.6bn worth of food produce in 2013.

The report, which examined the company’s statistics for the year of 2013, also found that the firm is responsible for almost 47,000 irish jobs - 14,500 directly in store and well over 30,000 in spin-off industries.

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