Monday 19 February 2018

What it says in the papers: business pages

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

Irish Independent:

***Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen has accepted “full and complete responsibility” for his role in the economic collapse.

Back at Leinster House yesterday, he told members of the Banking Inquiry they had “no monopoly on upset” and that he was “sorry” for the hardship and distress caused by austerity.

However, he defended his term as finance minister between 2004 and 2008, saying: “When I was there, I’m happy with … we did what we did but, obviously, with hindsight now, I would do things a little differently, clearly.”

***The IMF has warned that Greece needs a new €50bn bailout to stay afloat as voters go to the polls on Sunday to decide whether to accept the Troika’s terms for help.

The stark warning came days after Greece defaulted on part of its debt. The latest  assessment by the IMF concluded that the EU countries would supply €36bn of the €50bn and that Greece would still require debt relief.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ rejection of what he terms the “blackmail” of EU and IMF creditors demanding spending cuts and tax hikes has so angered Greece’s partners that there is no hope of reconciliation before Sunday’s vote.

***Activist investor Worldview has said that it is planning to block a planned €158m funding round by Irish oil explorer Petroceltic while simultaneously renewing its legal action against the company.

Worldview Capital Management is a Swiss-based hedge fund run by Angelo Moskov and the largest shareholder in Petroceltic with a 29pc stake.

Yesterday it called for an emergency general meeting after Petroceltic announced earlier this week that it intends to raise $175m (€158m) through a bond issue.

It also said that it intends to pursue legal proceedings in Ireland against Petroceltic in relation to a strategic review of the business which it says it was promised by Petroceltic and which it claims was not satisfactorily undertaken by the Dublin-based company.

Irish Times:

***Finance Minister Michael Noonan has downplayed the risk that the Greek crisis poses to the Irish economy, saying that financial links between the two countries are small, the Irish Times reports.

In a response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath he said: “As financial markets in Greece have been adversely affected through declines in the stock market, capital outflows and increases in bond yields, elsewhere in the euro area markets have been broadly stable”.

Although borrowing costs for Spain and Italy have increased in the wake of the Greek crisis, there has not yet been a major impact on Ireland’s borrowing costs.

***Ryanair customers can no longer book hire cars through the airline’s website after Hertz pulled its tie-in with the airline over a “contractual dispute”.

The two companies are now on course for a legal dispute. Ryanair says that Hertz wrote to it yesterday morning terminating its contract after a dispute flared up because Ryanair tickets, which used only to be available from the airline, can now be booked through travel agents using third party systems.

It means that people can now book Ryanair flights without having to visit Ryanair’s website, of which Hertz was the exclusive partner. Ryanair is now suing Hertz for breach of contract, while Hertz has said that it will “vigorously defend” proceedings.

***Dublin City Council has given planning permission for a €150m development of the Boland’s Mills site in Grand Canal Dock.

Nama will finance a €150m mixed use development on the site, which is close to the area held by rebels led by Eamon de Valera during the Easter Rising in 1916.

The development will include the construction of three new offices and residential blocks as well as the restoration of five derelict buildings. The venture is one of the first to be undertaken through the fast track planning system for the docklands.

Irish Examiner:

***Analysts are set to cut their full year earnings estimates for Irish drinks giant C&C after the company blamed the weather and tougher drink-driving laws on a disappointing first quarter of its financial year.

For the three months to the end of May, the cider maker warned it had experienced “mixed” trading conditions. Its core markets in Ireland and Scotland were hit by what it described as “unseasonably cold and wet weather, particularly in May”.

Goodbody stockbrokers said that as a result of the weak start to the year, it was likely to trim its earnings before interest and tax forecast from €5m to €110m.

***The State took in €805m more than expected in tax in the first half of the year, helped by strong corporation tax returns.

Experts are predicting the State is well on track to beat its end-of-year targets, giving the Government leeway for the pre-election Budget.

The tax take at the end of June was €20.6bn, compared with a target of €19.8bn. Some €54m more was taken in via income tax than expected in the first six months, while VAT was €36m above profile.

***The Irish Strategic Investment Fund will take up to five years to complete its transition from the national Pension Reserve fund.

The organisation, which is managed by the National Treasury Management Agency, unveiled its long term strategy yesterday, committing 80pc of the fund’s investment portfolio to investments categorised as “high economic impact”.

The fund has a mandate both to secure a commercial return for the State as well as stimulate growth and create jobs in the local economy.

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