Monday 22 January 2018

What it says in the papers: business pages

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

Irish Independent

***Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe is understood to be considering a draft version of a long-awaited report on the future of Aer Lingus.

The final report is being compiled for Mr Donohoe and will make a final recommendation on whether or not to sell the State’s 25pc stake to rival IAG. The Dáil must then approve any sale.

The Government has been dragging its feet since IAG said in December that it would pay almost €1.4bn for Aer Lingus. No deal is possible without support from Ryanair, which owns just under 30pc of Aer Lingus, and the State, which owns 25pc.

***German Chancellor Angela Merkel is coming under growing pressure from within the ranks of her own party to give up on Greece for the sake of the euro.

Members of Dr Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc are openly challenging her stance of keeping Europe’s most-indebted country in the 19-nation currency region. Even some officials in the finance ministry are leaning toward the conclusion that the euro area would be better off without Greece, sources told Bloomberg yesterday.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is due to travel to Brussels today for talks with European counterparts about what to do with Greece.

***Union chiefs have vowed to press ahead with two further days of bus strikes unless a series of commitments is given around the areas of employment and the potential for further privatisation of bus routes.

The Labour Relations Commission (LRC) will today launch a second bid aimed at averting this weekend’s planned strike action by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann workers.

The two firms claimed similar action over the May bank holiday weekend resulted in a serious financial loss.

***A company that was invested in by the Goodman Family Trust was meant to sink $85m into a shale-drilling venture in the US.

UK-registered Shalco Energy was set up to take part in the joint venture with West Star Exploration and Production Company that would have involved drilling more than 40 wells in Oklahoma, according to the Irish Times.

However the project fell through after Shalco went to court alleging that West Star had vastly underestimated the cost of the project while North Star counter sued alleging that Shalco had difficulty in securing funding. The case did not go to trial and both sides paid their own costs.

***Barclays Bank’s Irish operations recorded a 42pc increase in its customer deposits to €1.64bn, new accounts for the firm show.

According to the Irish Times the firm also boosted its customer deposits by 41pc to €890m, while its fee income increased by 34pc.

The bank, which does not have an Irish branch network and instead focuses on wealth management and corporate banking, saw its total income last year increase to €38m compared  to €32.6m the year before.

***An Irish technology firm has signed a deal that will see Mondelez International, the owner of brands such as Cadbury and Oreo, use its ecommerce software in an effort to increase sales.

According to the Irish Times, Irish firm ChannelSight allows brands to add “buy it now” buttons to online campaigns and social media advertisements which can help increase conversion rates.

Speaking to the newspaper the chief media and ecommerce officer at Mondelez Bonin Bough said: “This partnership is a crucial help accelerate growth through ecommerce.”

Irish Examiner

***Cork-based companies could target the employees of multinational giants such as Google and Facebook to help alleviate some of their recruitment issues, according to one business boss.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner SolarWinds senior vice president of finance and operations David Owens said employees working in Dublin may be looking for a new opportunity in Cork.

“We may have to try getting them out of the Googles, Facebooks, LinkedIns. They may have loads of experience but maybe they’re at the stage in their life that they want to settle down and [the IDA and Cork Chamber] are building an infrastructure  to bring people back.”

***The Irish construction sector went up a gear in April, growing at its fastest pace so far this year as new orders and employment rose.

The Ulster Bank construction index jumped to 57.2 in April from 52.9 in March. This represented the 20th consecutive month of growth for the index.

“Following disappointing readings in the first quarter, the April results paint a picture of a sector experiencing renewed improvement,” said Ulster Bank economist Simon Barry.

***Allied Irish Banks has given out loans backed by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland worth a combined €60m to 1,300 small business owners since its launch in March.

AIB said there had been strong demand from businesses and farmers for the loans, which have an interest rate of 4.5pc a year. This is the cheapest standard variable rate for business loans in the market.

The demand has seen almost a third of AIB’s €200m fund loaned out since launch. A total of €800m is to be made available to SMEs at discounted rates.

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