Sunday 21 July 2019

What it says in the papers: business pages

Paul O'Donoghue

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

Irish Independent:

***Former finance minister Charlie McCreevy has claimed the Fianna Fail-led coalition he served in before the economic crash was “the most responsible than any other government in the history of the State”.

And Mr McCreevy denied making any mistakes during his term as finance minister between 1997 and 2004, when he was appointed as European Commissioner by then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

“You’d only apologise for things you got very much wrong. I don’t believe that I did,” he said. During a heated day of evidence before the Banking Inquiry, Mr McCreevy was warned he could face criminal sanctions unless he discussed whether or not he believed a property bubble took place.

***The head of the world’s biggest private equity firm has heaped praise on Ireland for accepting that the crisis was “our fault” and pledging to “clean it up.”

Blackstone chief executive Stephen Schwarzman has invested heavily in so-called distressed Irish assets including Eircom in the wake of the crisis, and has already reaped hundreds of millions of euro as the economy here recovers.

This country had turned into one of the “great winners” coming out of the financial crisis, he said in Dublin yesterday. “This is the only place where people said, ‘OK, we made a mess, and we’re going to clean it up and it’s our fault and we’re going to fix it.

***Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said it is not morally justifiable for banks to overcharge mortgage holders on variable rates.

His admission came after his Government’s attempts to force banks to reduce what they are currently charging 300,000 variable rate customers was described as a flop and complete failure.

Banks were accused of just tinkering with the rates they charge existing customers ahead of a deadline set by Finance Minister Michael Noonan for lower rates.

Irish Times:

***Greece’s international creditors have refused to reopen bailout talks with the beleaguered Greek government and are now poised to let a high-stakes referendum on a rescue plan for the country proceed on Sunday.

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras accused lenders of blackmail in a televised address after they rejected a new set of proposals from his administration, which included a number of large concessions.

Euro zone finance ministers refused to reopen talks as Mr Tsipras said that Greeks should reject the creditor’s proposals. The referendum is now set to go ahead this weekend as planned.

***The Government is planning to introduce specific targets for emissions reduction in its new climate change bill after coming under fierce pressure from environmental groups, the Irish Times reports.

According to the newspaper, activists had been calling for a target of reducing carbon emissions 80pc on 1990 levels by 2050. This call had been resisted by business group Ibec and the Irish Farmer’s Association.

However, the newspaper reports that Environment Minister Alan Kelly has secured cabinet approval for an amendment to the proposed bill that will commit the State to the 80pc target.

***A proposal to build a third multi-billion pound runway at Heathrow airport by 2030 to cope with increasing capacity demand has sparked a major battle, the Irish Times reports.

After a three-year study, the government-appointed Airports Commission selected a new runway at Heathrow over two other shortlisted options.

The report causes a headache for UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who had previously pledged that there would be no third runway built at Heathrow while he is in power. The runway has also been opposed by local residents.

Irish Examiner:

***The trade body representing freight transport and courier companies has lodged a complaint with the European Commission about the new Eircode post system, claiming that it amounts to unfair State aid for An Post.

Eircode, which is due to be launched to the public this month, is a seven character code that will be used for residential and business addresses. As the last four digits of the code will be randomised, the Eircode for adjacent properties will bear no relation to each other.

The Freight Transport Association, which represents over 200 companies, argues that this gives An Post a competitive advantage as it does not require and will not use the last four characters of the code.

***Irish-listed oil explorer Tullow Oil was optimistic about its half-year performance in a trading update issued yesterday, despite reporting that profits are to more than halve to $300m.

In a statement, the company said it expects to report revenues of $800m in the six months to the end of June, down from $1.3bn for the same period last year. Gross profit was $300m, down from $700m at the mid-point of 2014.

However, the firm has raised its full-year production guidance after its flagship Jubilee offshore Ghana field produced more than expected. The company now expects to produce between 72,000 and 78,000 barrels per day (bpd) this year, up from the previously expected 69,000-77,000 bpd.

***The Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, has confirmed that the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) paid bonuses to staff for the first time since 2012 last year.

In a Dail response to Fianna Fail’s Finance spokesman, Michael McGrath, Minister Noonan confirmed that a total of €79,200 in bonus payments was paid to 16 NTMA staff.

The National Asset Management Agency (Nama) operates under the NTMA umbrella, but Mr Noonan confirmed that no Nama staff received a bonus last ye

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