Saturday 24 February 2018

What it says in the papers: business pages reporters

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

Irish Independent:

***Greece has raised the spectre of default after admitting that it will not be able to make a scheduled payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month unless it reaches a crucial deal to unlock much-needed bailout funds.

The claim raises the prospect of default by the Mediterranean state within weeks, with the IMF due a payment on June 5.

Beyond that date, several more payments loom with the combined total coming in at about €1.5bn.

***Dunnes Stores has lost a Supreme Court challenge to a demand from the new owners of two Galway shopping centres that the retailer must pay €1.13m in unpaid rent and service charges.

Camiveo, a firm controlled by Dublin-based investment firm Signature Capital, was last year granted summary judgment in the High Court against Dunnes for the amount. The retailer was refused leave to defend.

Signature Capital was established by former Investec employees Ciaran McNamara and Enda Woods.

***IAG boss Willie Walsh has insisted he is in no rush for the Government to make a decision on a possible sale of Aer Lingus as the saga rumbles into its sixth month.

“I’m in no hurry,” he said, before speaking yesterday at a lunch for the Chartered Accountants Leinster Society at Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel.

“I’m perfectly relaxed about the timing. It’s not putting any pressure on me. I have a small team of people dedicated to it and they remain on call and we’ll wait and see what happens,” said Mr Walsh.

Irish Times:

***A subsidiary of one of the world’s largest banks is set to be appointed by Nama to handle the sale of its most valuable real estate property, Dundrum shopping centre.

According to the Irish Times, the €1bn valued portfolio will also include the sale of 50pc of the Pavilions shopping centre in Swords, Dublin and the Ilac shopping centre.

Eastdil Secured, a subsidiary of the Wells Fargo Bank, will handle the sale which it is thought will attract interest from several sovereign wealth funds and large institutional investors.

***Irish fuel company Petrogas is to announce the floatation of the service station arm of its business, Applegreen, as soon as next week.

According to the Irish Times, the company board is to meet next week and give the go-ahead for an IPO, which has been in the pipeline for a number of months. It is thought that it could list on the Dublin and London stock markets in June.

The newspaper reports that the company could raise between €50m and €100m from a floatation.

***The vice president of the European Commission has urged the Government to press ahead with planned structural reforms despite the country’s recent strong economic performance.

Speaking to the Irish Times ahead of a visit to Belfast and Dublin beginning today, Jyrki Katainen congratulated Ireland on its economic turnaround, but added that the Government must continue to work to reduce the public debt.

“We recommend Ireland to continue the reforms...and also to continue fiscal consolidation because now Ireland is in good economic times,” he said.

Irish Examiner:

***The Department of Finance’s spend on consultants last year topped €1.898m, new figures show.

Arthur Cox received €824,247 for legal advice on restructuring of Irish banking system, related litigation and further emerging issues, according to the Department’s figures.

The second largest amount went to the ESRI which received €122,834 for ‘Research: Financing SMEs in Recovery: Evidence for Irish Policy Options’.

***A leading auditor has defended the €66m it received for its work evaluating the financial health of Bank of Ireland, saying that its role was not to predict the future.

Former high ranking members of PricewaterhouseCoopers told the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry that the rules for bank auditors in place during the economic crisis have since been 'found wanting'  as they only allowed them to consider previous transactions and did not allow the recognition of future events or risks.

PwC was paid €66m for its work for Bank of Ireland.

***Government efforts to put pressure on banks to reduce standard variable mortgage rates is an attempt to win over the middle classes, according to a leading analyst.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Karl Deeter of the Irish Mortgage Brokers said that lowering standard variable rates would make credit more easily available to a larger proportion of the population, which goes against policies introduced by the Central Bank that aim to limit the availability of credit in the market.

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