Thursday 18 January 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:

***Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has made a series of 11th-hour concessions and reforms in a bid to break a deadlock that has pushed his country to the brink of bankruptcy.

As the prospect of Greece exiting the euro and the EU draws closer, Taoiseach Enda Kenny will attend the latest crisis EU meeting in Brussels today.

After months of wrangling and with anxious depositors pulling billions of euro out of Greek banks, Mr Tsipras’s leftist government is now showing a new willingness to make concessions that would unlock frozen aid to avert default.

***Developer Paddy McKillen, who bid for Clerys but lost out to Dublin private equity group D2, had planned to revamp the premises into a destination store modelled on France’s Galeries Lafayette and New York’s Bloomingdales department stores, it is understood.

Belfast-born McKillen was one of the under-bidders for Clerys but was beaten by Natrium, the joint venture owned by Deirdre Foley’s D2 Capital and Britain’s Cheyne Capital.

Earlier this month, Natrium paid €29m to Boston-based investment group Gordon Brothers for the store, which it immediately put into liquidation with the loss of 400 jobs.

***The surge in the value of sterling alongside a falling euro will continue into July, experts predict.

With negotiations between Greece and European officials crumbling and the indebted nation’s future in the euro hanging in the balance, investors are pouring money into relatively stable sterling. Data pointing to an economic recovery firming up in the UK and the Bank of England’s moves toward raising interest rates are adding to the pound’s strength.

One of the biggest beneficiaries is Irish exporters, many of whom are paid by buyers in sterling but pay most of their outgoings in euro. Data from the Central Statistics Office showed that Irish goods exports to the US and Britain rose 22.4pc and 7.5pc respectively in the first four months of 2015.

Irish Times:

***The Government is looking to free up more land for private developments through a new capital expenditure plan to be announced this summer, the Irish Times reports.

According to the newspaper the plan will include least one large scale transport development, such as a Luas connecting North Dublin to the city centre, as well as several smaller local projects.

Development rates paid by to local authorities may be reduced  in a bid to increase the incentive for construction. Although individual rates are set by local authorities, the maximum allowable rates can be cut by legislation.

***Irish investments group DCC  has several inter-company financing assets in Luxembourg with assets worth more than €1bn, the Irish Times reports.

According to the newspaper the London-listed plc has been using the Luxembourg structures since the mid 2000s. One of the Luxembourg subsidiaries, DCC Funding Sarl, trades in sterling and was incorporated in 2006. It had total assets of £266.6m at the end of March 2014 and had one part time employee.

Another subsidiary which also trades in sterling, DCC Treasury Sarl, had total assets of £400m at the end of March of last year and also had one part time employee.

***A UK brick company sold by Ireland’s biggest firm CRH a year ago in a £414m (578m) deal is aiming to raise more than twice that amount in an initial public offering, according to Bloomberg.

US private equity firm Bain, which bought brick maker  Ibstock from CRH in December, is working on a float of the business and may seek a valuation of more than £1bn, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Bain bought the firm from CRH as part of a deal that also included the Glen Gery clayworks business in the US. When announcing the deal CRH said that it planned to retain £30m of property associated with the business which it would prepare for “future disposal”.

Irish Examiner:

***Homeowners, particularly those living in apartments, are facing significant hikes in the amount they pay in property tax as the housing market continues to recover, according to an analysis conducted by the Irish Examiner.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office and  European statistics office Eurostat show that since May 2013, the date when property tax was first assessed against property values, house prices have increased at the fastest rate in Europe.

Nationally house prices have increased by 24.5pc since 2013. However, when Dublin is discounted the increase for the rest of the country is 12.7pc. In Dublin house prices have leaped by 40.2pc in that period while apartment prices have soared by 48.3pc.

***Income tax revenue from high earners fell by 4.4pc in 2013 due to a fall in the number of people liable for such a tax, the Irish Examiner reports.

An analysis by the Revenue Commissioners of the High Income Individuals’ Restriction shows that just over 900 high wealth individuals paid income tax in 2013 compared to about 1,050 the year before.

However, the average amount of income tax  paid out per individual rose from €60,200 to €66,847 in the same period.

***Members of Cork County Council have asked City Hall for training to help them get to grips with the local authorities’ annual budget, the Irish Examiner reports.

According to the newspaper the call was made by Cllr Des O’Grady who was among number of first-time councillors elected in 2014.

Overall, a total of 31 of the 55 sitting county councillors experienced their first budget meeting towards the end of last year. A number have since expressed an interest in getting some advice and coaching on financial matters from council officials.

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