Friday 23 March 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

***A liquidity problem of €4bn at Irish Nationwide bank was known a full three weeks before the night of the bank guarantee, it has emerged.

Bank of Ireland boss Richie Boucher told the Banking Inquiry he was “shocked and shaken” when the problems at Irish Nationwide bank were revealed to him at a meeting on September 7, 2008. The group chief executive described how his bank was called to the meeting where Financial Regulator Michael Neary was present, along with Irish Nationwide representatives.  

***Three out of the four probes into Ireland’s taxes completed by European competition regulators since 1991 have gone against authorities here, according to papers seen by the Irish Independent.

None of the Irish probes resulted in companies or sectors found to have benefited from a tax advantage being forced to pay back any money, however.

A fifth probe, into the taxes paid by Apple, is ongoing.

***Troubled insurer RSA is to lay off double the number it previously indicated.

The insurer had told the Irish Independent it was laying off up to 59 people, but it has now emerged that it is seeking up to 120 redundancies, with roles to go from various functions.

It comes after the firm, that had to be repeatedly bailed out by its British parent, shed 100 staff last year.

***Northern Ireland is looking for consultants to advise it on how to implement a new lower rate of corporation tax and compete with the Republic for attracting inward investment.

Stormont is due to have the power set its own corporation tax rate in 2017, when it is expected that it will match the 12.5pc on offer in the republic.

The Irish Times reports that two government departments in the North and Invest Northern Ireland are seeking consultants who will help them compete for FDI “with significantly reduced corporation tax in Northern Ireland”.

***The regulatory environment in Ireland may be leading US payments companies to locate their European operations elsewhere, the Irish Times reports.

The information was contained in a briefing note given to Finance Minister Michael Noonan ahead of a meeting with the former Governor of the Central bank Patrick Honohan last month and which has been released to Sinn Fein Finance spokesman Pearse Doherty.

The note contains feedback from UK firms provided to the Irish ambassador to Great Britain and quotes one participant as saying: “decision-makers at board level in the US are influenced by seeing their companies encountering far more regulatory problems in Ireland than, say, in Luxembourg.”

***The EU executive has unveiled plans to create a single digital market in Europe, which it says could increase GDP by €400m a year across the single market if implemented.

The new policies unveiled by the European Commission range from possible new regulation for Web platforms like Google and Facebook to popular plans for cutting delivery costs on online shopping over EU borders and ending blocks on watching online videos abroad.

The Digital Single Market Strategy is central to Jean-Claude Juncker's strategy to create jobs across the 28-nation bloc.

Irish Examiner

***A tech body has made a submission to the Government claiming that it could create 1,300 jobs in the coming years in the south-east of the country, according to the Irish Examiner.

The paper reports that it@Cork, the representative body for the tech sector in the south of the country, recently made a submission to the Department of Jobs and the IDA seeking funding to help establish a tech cluster.

***Ireland’s biggest company CRH expects first half earnings to be up by 10pc on a year-on-year basis.

In a trading update released yesterday the firm said that  trading in the first four months of the year were in line with expectations.

Group sales in the period rose 2.5pc, with the performance largely driven by “continued positive momentum” in the Americas, where it said the economic and business environment remains “upbeat”.

***Irish business sentiment has reached its highest levels in eight years as confidence in the economy continues to improve, according to a new study.

Almost two-thirds of companies surveyed for the  KBC Bank Ireland/ Chartered Accountants Ireland Business Sentiment Index reported an increase in business activity for the first quarter of the year while 27pc reported no change.

The survey shows positive sentiment among businesses has surpassed the previous highest level seen at the start of 2007. However the report does warn of some issues for companies, notably that one in five face difficulties finding suitable staff.

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