Wednesday 22 November 2017

What it says in the papers: business pages reporters

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

Irish Independent:

***The country’s banks have all agreed to cut variable-interest rates or offer customers the opportunity to switch to more favourable fixed rates, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan will today declare victory over the lenders in a long-running dispute over the interest being paid by 300,000 homeowners.

The move follows a series of meetings between Mr Noonan and AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, Permanent TSB, ACC and KBC.

***Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen did not overrule anyone on the night of the bank guarantee, former Central Bank Governor John Hurley has told the Banking Inquiry.

Mr Hurley said the blanket guarantee was necessary or it would have “taken decades for the country to recover”.

He described how , on the night of the guarantee, Mr Cowen had chaired an orderly discussion at a very constructive, well-organised meeting. “There was no overruling by the Taoiseach in my presence,” he added.

***Firms linked to property development firm Davy Hickey have joined forces with some of Ireland’s richest people in plans for a major Dublin 400-unit housing scheme in Tallaght that’s likely to cost in the region of €100m to build.

But it will be just the first phase of a massive development that’s being planned on lands controlled by the investors.

The owners of a company behind the scheme, Talarive, are a who’s who of well-heeled Irish corporate and social life. They include Paul Coulson, the executive chairman of glass maker Ardagh, legendary horse trainer Jim Bolger and former head of Davy International David Shubotham.

Irish Times:

***The Central Bank has disqualified a former partner of Bloxham for ten years as part of a settlement which will see him help investigations into the collapse of the country’s oldest stockbroker

Tadhg Gunnell, who was head of finance and compliance at Bloxham until the collapse three years ago, was found to have overseen “certain financial irregularities” in the firm’s accounts which “contributed to its overstated regulatory capital position”, the Central Bank said. Mr Gunnell’s actions were linked to the misrepresentation of Bloxham’s true capital position to the Central Bank between 2007 and May 2012, the regulator added.

Boxham’s collapsed three years ago this month but this is the first time anybody linked to the firm has been punished.

***US tech giant Microsoft has become Ireland’s biggest company with a turnover of almost €20bn, according to the Irish Times.

Annual revenue growth of just under a third helped the company overtake building firm CRH, knocking it back to second place in a survey carried out by the newspaper.

Tech firm Google has moved back one place to third, while Irish-headquartered pharmaceutical company Medtronic is a new entry into the list at fourth place.l

***Betting firm Boylesports is considering submitting a bid for rival firm Ladbrokes Ireland, which is currently in examinership.

Ladbrokes is looking at shutting around 60 of its 196 stores in the Republic as it looks to restructure its under-performing Irish arm as it works its way through a rescue plan.

The Irish Times reports that Boylesports approached the court appointed examiner in late April and is in talks with him regarding an alternative plan for the business. It says that its proposals will likely offer better terms to the firm’s creditors.

Irish Examiner:

***The Musgrave Group has sold its loss-making business in Britain for just €57m, less than a quarter of the net price it paid for it.

The company has agreed to sell its Budgens and Londis business in Britain, which had losses of about £7m in the past year, to UK retail and wholesale group Booker.

Speaking yesterday Musgrave CEO Chris Martin said that the move was a “difficult” choice, but added that it was the “right decision”.

***Although unemployment figures could dip below 10pc, the large improvement in numbers is likely to stall thereafter due to the large number of people on Government activation programmes, according to the Irish Examiner.

The claim came as it was announced yesterday that the unemployment rate has fallen below 10pc for the first time since the financial crisis began.

The chief economist of davy stockbrokers Conall Mac Coille  said that it was “not unthinkable” that unemployment could dip below 8pc next year. However CSO figures show that this figure could then slow due to the large number of people who have opted to take college courses and the large number of people participating in Government training courses.

***Partners at accountancy firm KPMG are charging the State €295 per hour for their work on the liquidation of the former Anglo Irish Bank.

New figures show that the accountancy firm got almost €100m in fees from the liquidation of the IBRC and its work with Nama.

According to figures provided by the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, partners at KPMG are earning €295 per hour for their work on the special liquidation of the IBRC, with directors on €260 an hour.

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