Tuesday 12 December 2017

What it says in the papers: business pages reporters

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

Irish Independent:

***Expiry dates on gift vouchers will be banned as part of a major overhaul of consumer law, the Irish Independent can reveal.

And consumers who download or stream music, videos and apps are to be given statutory rights and remedies if something goes wrong.

The changes are part of a new Consumer Rights Bill which Jobs Minister Richard Bruton will unveil today.

***Finance Minister Michael Noonan sought advice from Nama on how to control supply and demand in the property market, according to just-released minutes of Nama board meetings.

In a highly unusual move, the minister effectively asked Nama to suggest solutions for managing a market which has historically been left to free enterprise.

At a Nama board strategy meeting on February 5 last year, Mr Noonan raised the “consideration” for Nama “to provide inventory of green and brown field sites, and advise on a mechanism to control supply/demand of land”.

***ESB workers are in line for a €100m payout as the Government prepares to sign off on a plan to buy back shares from staff.

The Government doled out the shares to ESB staff in 2011 in lieu of a pay increase through an Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP).

ESB ESOP members own 5pc of the company, with 99 million stock units having been acquired by the ESOP in 2011 for almost €76m. The shares are notionally allocated to eligible ESOP participants.

Irish Times:

***An Irish company involved in carbon trading has said that it is confident of a win in a dispute over the return of a €1.9m deposit.

Notes on the accounts of Celestial Green Ventures, which has a project in the Amazon rainforest, say that it is in a dispute with a former customer for the return of €1.9m.

The Irish Times reports that the notes say: “The company has rejected this claim, has taken legal advice, and is of the view that no provision is necessary.”

***Investec is predicting that an increase in mergers and acquisitions reported in the first quarter of the year will continue, even though a €6.5bn purchase of assets by Ireland’s biggest company CRH made up over three quarters of the total value.

The Investec quarterly M&A tracker found that the first quarter of the year had the highest value of deals completed since 2007, although this can be attributed almost entirely to CRH’s deal to buy €6.5bn worth of assets from rival construction firms Holcim and Lafarge.

At 68 the total number of deals reported was an increase of more than 15pc  compared to the same period in 2014.

***The four Dublin local authorities are looking for private landlords to participate in a joint scheme that would see them make their properties available for social housing.

Landlords will be offered guarantees of up to 92pc of the current market value for the properties and will be able to deal directly with the council instead of the tenant.

The move is part of an effort to increase renting to those on lower incomes which has decreased in recent years, as the increase in Dublin rents has made high income earners more attractive to landlords.

Irish Examiner:

***The sale of the State’s stake in Aer Lingus to IAG has edged closer as the Government confirmed that it had received a report by an expert group advising on the deal.

IAG’s proposed €1.36bn bid was recommended by the Aer Lingus in January but is conditional on the support of the company’s two largest shareholders, the State and rival airline Ryanair.

The proposed takeover is now expected to be decided upon by Cabinet the week after next.

***Greece will be unable to find the €1.6bn sum it is due to hand the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month, one of the country’s ministers has admitted.

Nikos Voutsis, the Greek Minister of the Interior, said in a TV interview: “This money will not be given and is not there to be given.”

The Greek state is due to hand over the money in four instalments in June, as part of its obligations for its 2011 bailout.

***Emirates National Energy Company has a 50:50 chance of succeeding in its £7.5bn bid to buy Irish-listed Dragon Oil, according to UK analysts.

ENOC, which already owns 54pc of Dragon Oil, has made an approach to buy the remainder of the company in a deal which values Dragon Oil at 735 pence a share or 3.6 billion pounds (€5bn) in total

The Irish Examiner reports that a research note published by Stifel Equity Research in London said: “Yesterday’s [Thursday being the closing day of the proposal] closing price represents 49.5pc of the difference between the level of the proposal and the prior 30 days’ closing price of 626p. Simplistically this suggests the market remains split on the likelihood of the transaction proceeding.”

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