Tuesday 20 February 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:

***Independent TD Catherine Murphy is facing an Oireachtas investigation over accusations she abused Dáil privilege by making claims about businessman Denis O’Brien’s personal banking affairs.

Mr O’Brien yesterday lodged a complaint with the Ceann Comhairle’s office, although Ms Murphy will insist she acted in the public interest.

Meanwhile, Mr O’Brien’s legal team is preparing a legal action against the State seeking clarification on the separation of powers between the judiciary and the Oireachtas.  

***Dublin’s attractiveness as a transatlantic hub is under threat with plans to offer pre-clearance facilities for US travellers at 10 global airports.

Dublin and Shannon are currently the only airports in Europe that currently have the pre-inspection facilities, which are hosted by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The value of the Irish airports for transatlantic traffic was a key reason for IAG’s €1.4bn plan to buy Aer Lingus. But now the US Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, has announced that the United States is entering into negotiations with 10 foreign airports that could eventually be bases for the coveted pre-clearance system.

***Greece yesterday sent a reform plan to its lenders yesterday  in the hope that it will be sufficient to release much needed bailout cash, as the deadline looms for a payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The country’s creditors were simultaneously working on their own draft agreement but were beaten to the mark by Athens reportedly keen to ensure they were first out of the traps with a proposal.

The country faces a €300m payment to the IMF on Friday, the first of four this month totalling around €1.6bn.

Irish Times:

***Bookmakers Boylesports, which is interested in buying rival Ladbrokes Ireland out of examinership, was yesterday granted leave by the High Court to “raise questions about the performance by Ladbrokes’ examiner”.

The Ladbrokes Irish unit is currently under court protection from its creditors through examinership. It plans to close up to 60 of its 196 betting shops in Ireland and to cut 250 jobs as part of a proposed rescue plan.

Boylesports intends to launch a bid for the company, which it says will involve an eight figure investment in the business. Boylesports claims that the move would result in fewer shop closures and a better deal for creditors.

***Galway-based toolmaker C&F has been defrauded in what appears to be a scam that has hit the business for almost €400,000.

According to the Irish Times the apparent fraud occured when one of the company’s Chinese suppliers had their bank account hacked, resulting in funds being transferred to the wrong account.

The newspaper reports that even though the paper trail leading to the account where the money was transferred was clear, C&F representatives have complained of repeated refusals over the course of nearly a week to open a case file about the missing funds.

***Former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive Sean FitzPatrick is to face a fresh trial date over loan allegations, after a judge decided to discharge a jury which had been due to consider the case.

A new jury will now be sworn in when the case comes back before the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in October.

Mr FitzPatrick (66), of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, has denied 27 charges he is facing under the Companies Act 1990 over allegedly failing to disclose the true value of multi-million euro loans.

Irish Examiner:

***Global drug giant Perrigo – which bought Irish pharma firm Elan in 2013 for €6.3bn – has agreed to snap up brands including NiQuitin and Panodil from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

Perrigo, which is headquartered in Ireland, didn’t reveal how much it’s paying for the portfolio of over-the-counter brands, which in 2014 generated combined sales of about $110m (€99m).

It said the new brands will boost Perrigo’s branded consumer healthcare unit’s 2014 net sales by about 8pc, while also improving its adjusted gross and operating margins.

***A five-star hotel developed at a cost of €70m is expected to fetch just €13m when it formally goes on the market today.

Castlemartyr Hotel and Resort in Cork was opened by then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 2008 and became one of the symbols of the Celtic Tiger and the subsequent crash, going into receivership barely two years after it opened.

The hotel was developed on 220 acres and has 103 bedrooms, including 32 suites. Over the years the hotel has hosted several famous guests including former US President Bill Clinton and rock star Bruce Springsteen.

***The rate of new manufacturing business quickened in May and was the fastest in three months, a survey showed.

Higher new orders from both domestic and export markets contributed to a further improvement in business conditions at Irish manufacturing firms in May, according to the latest Purchasing Managers’ Index for the sector.  Both output and employment rose at a faster pace than in April.

Philip O’Sullivan, economist with specialist bank Investec, said last month that nearly four times as many firms added jobs as the number reporting cuts.

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