Saturday 20 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:

***More job losses and motor premium hikes are likely in the insurance sector in the wake of a large number of layoffs at Liberty Insurance.

US-owned Liberty is laying off 270 people from its operations in Blachardstown in Dublin, Cavan and Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh.

The company expects 135 of the redundancies to be in Dublin, 115 in Cavan and 20 in Enniskillen.

***The ECB had “inadvertently” done Ireland a favour by forcing us into a bailout, Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan has told the Banking Inquiry.

Mr Honohan said he believed Ireland could have avoided the IMF bailout programme if the ECB had been prepared to fund Irish banks.

We could have “staggered on through” the difficult years of 2011 and 2012 “and now we would be saddled with much higher servicing costs”, he said. Instead the ECB “inadvertently did us a favour” by allowing us go into the bailout programme.

***IAG has offered concessions to regulators in order to win European competition approval for its planned acquisition of Aer Lingus, the European Commission said yesterday.

European authorities said they have extended the deadline for their decision on whether to allow the bid to proceed until July 15, from the original July 1.

That timing means the decision, including details of any concessions that are agreed with IAG will be known before Aer Lingus shareholders are due to meet on July 16 for an extraordinary general meeting to cast their votes on the IAG offer.  

Irish Times:

***Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that Ireland will not support debt relief for Greece and urged his Greek counterpart, Alex Tspipras, to follow the Irish example if he wants a deal to keep his country in the euro.

As a high-level meeting of EU leaders in Brussels failed to reach any deal last night, Mr Kenny said that any proposals from Greece had to make economic sense.

An Irish official said the Taoiseach was in favour of debt "reprofiling" for Greece - extending the term of the loans but not writing them off.

***The chairman of Bray Wanderers and one of the club’s directors are heading up an attempt to buy the troubled League of Ireland side from its owners, the Irish Times reports.

The club has been plagued by financial problems this year that resulted in previous manager Alan Matthews leaving the club several months ago. Bray Wanderers Ltd’s auditors brought the viability of the team to continue as a going concern in the club’s 2013 accounts, in which it made a loss of almost €84,000.

Chairman Denis O’Conor wrote to shareholders in the club on June 17 saying that he and “other investors” are prepared to buy them out at a rate of 0.05 cent per share and they are looking for a response to the offer within seven days.

***Businessman Noel Smyth, whose company Fitzwilliam Finance Partners won control of Arnotts earlier this year, is expected to meet with union leaders in the coming weeks to reassure them of his commitment to the retail business.

There had been concerns raised in the Dail by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams that Arnotts could suffer a similar fate to fellow Dublin department store Clerys, which recently went into liquidation.

However, the Irish Times reports that Mr Smith will tell officials from Siptu and Mandate that his company plans to continue operating the department store as an independent retailer.

Irish Examiner:

***New legislation will mean that landlords will have to pass tenant details onto Irish Water while  tenancy agreements will compel those living on a premises to pay their water charges, the Irish Examiner reports.

Under the new legislation housing bodies will be forced to chase tenants for unpaid bills while homeowners will be obliged to charges before they sell their property.

The Government was last night accused of progressing the “draconian” new measures through the Dail in a “Trojan horse” approach. The legislation is set to go before the Dail next week.

***A major redevelopment of a landmark Dublin site has been stalled because the works may disrupt counselling sessions for couples looking to save their marriages.

The country’s best known marriage guidance service, Accord, lodged an appeal against plans by property firm Hibernia Reit to redevelop the €70m Garda regional HQ site, inset, on Dublin’s Harcourt Square.

Accord claims that the building works may disrupt marriage counselling sessions in its adjacent building. Earlier this year, Hibernia announced that it had acquired the Garda site and in April, Hibernia lodged plans for a seven-block redevelopment. In its first full year operating in the Dublin property market, Hibernia has invested €448m in property here.

******Petrel Resources is actively eyeing up more prospects in Ireland and elsewhere and is planning drilling activity on existing Irish acreage in the next three to four years.

The Dublin-based oil and gas exploration firm yesterday announced that its loss before taxes last year almost hit €3m. This compared to a before-tax loss of just €526,783 the year before.

Petrel managing director David Horgan has said that after seismic activity is taken on the company’s existing Irish licences off the west coast drilling could get underway in 2018.

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