Monday 22 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:

***Talks on securing a potential third bailout for Greece could take up to a month, it was revealed last night, after the debt-stricken country agreed to further tough austerity to avoid a possible exit from the Eurozone.

The deal secured in Brussels followed a dramatic all-night summit of European leaders that concluded early yesterday morning with an agreement requiring Greece to back more “draconian” financial measures in return for talks on further financial aid.  

Greece won conditional agreement to receive a possible €86bn over three years. But for negotiations to begin, the Greek parliament faces a tight deadline of tomorrow to enact sweeping, unpopular reform measures including spending cuts, tax hikes and pension reforms – measures that were effectively rejected in a Greek referendum just over a week ago.

***The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) has refused to disclose how much it is paying advisers it hired to help the Government decide whether to sell the State’s 25.1pc stake in Aer Lingus as part of a €1.36bn takeover bid by IAG.

In response to a freedom of information request by the Irish Independent, the NTMA confirmed that it would not reveal how much of the taxpayers’ money is being spent.

The NTMA hired the advisers on behalf of State agency NewERA, which it oversees, and which is responsible for managing the possible sale of State assets.

***Ryanair is suing several of its Spanish staff in a Madrid court after workers went on strike in a dispute over pay and working conditions, the Irish Independent has learned.

Workers in Madrid who handle checked luggage for Ryanair flights went on strike at the start of May in the dispute with the airline due to disagreements over workers’ pay and conditions. Several unions took part in industrial action at first, although only one, the CTA, is still on strike.  

Ryanair has now lodged legal proceedings at the Madrid labour Court against the CTA union. The airline would not confirm how many staff are involved, saying only that it is a “small” number.

Irish Times:

***The head of the IDA has denied that Ireland is losing out on foreign investment due to a lack of high quality office space in Dublin, the Irish Times reports.

Although chief executive Martin Shanahan admitted that there is a “tightness” in the market, he said that it is not proving a major obstacle to attracting companies to Ireland.

He was speaking as the organisation released its half year update. The report showed that IDA-client companies announced the creation of 9,000 jobs so far this year, compared to 8,000 over the same period during 2014.

***The number of people declaring themselves bankrupt in court surged by more than 500pc last year.

New figures from the Court Service of Ireland revealed 448 people were ruled bankrupt in 2014, with just 16 on foot of applications by creditors. Some 432 were initiated by the person in debt, up 568pc since 2013.

The increase in self-bankruptcy, although less than predicted, can mostly be put down to changes in legislation that shortened the court process from 12 years to three.

***China stocks, led by small caps, extended their recovery for a third day yesterday, raising hopes that measures taken by Beijing to prevent a full-blown market crash have worked.

Shares climbed, with a gauge of smaller companies capping its biggest advance in more than six years, as hundreds of stocks resumed trading and export data exceeded economists’ estimates.

The number of halted companies fell by 408 from Friday to 1,045, or 36 per cent of overall listings on mainland exchanges

Irish Examiner:

***The sale of the country’s only oil refinery is currently being considered despite indications from its owner last year that it would not be sold, the Irish Examiner reports.

US multinational energy firm Phillips 66 told the newspaper that it is considering selling the Whitegate refinery in Cork, which employs about 300 people locally.

It added that, longer term, it expected the “asset will be challenged”.

***The Oireachtas committee overseeing public spending has asked individuals linked with Nama’s €5.7bn Northern Irish property sale to answer outstanding questions over the deal.

The Public Accounts Committee will issue letters this week, requesting people connected to the deal to answer questions.

Northern Ireland’s finance committee is also due to begin its hearings on the €1.6bn sale of the Project Eagle portfolio later this week.

***The company behind the introduction of the new Eircode system expect the postcodes to become widely standard over the next two years.

Liam Duggan, business development director for Capita Ireland and director of Eircode, said: “The last country to introduce one in the OECD was Serbia and it took them about two years for the uptake to reach the level it expected. We think it will be actually a bit quicker because of modern technology and the use of smartphones.”

He was speaking at the launch of Eircode in Dublin yesterday. The system has also come under fire from the Freight Transport Association and the DHL, who say they will not use the new postcodes.

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