Thursday 14 December 2017

What it says in the papers: business pages

Paul O'Donoghue

Here are the business stories you need to know about this morning:

Irish Independent:

***A wage war’ is in the offing as small businesses vow to fight plans to increase the minimum wage to €9.15 per hour.

Vintners, hoteliers and retailers are unhappy with proposals that they should boost pay just as they are starting to recover from the recession.

They argue that raising the minimum wage by 50 cent will increase expectations among higher-paid staff, who will seek to maintain a fair differential.

***The new head of the Irish arm of Pinewood Studios, one of the biggest names in the film industry, has said that the firm may look at opening an Irish studio in the next five years.

It was announced yesterday that Naoise Barry, the current Film Commissioner for the Irish Film Board, has been appointed head of production at Pinewood Productions Ireland.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, he said that the new firm will first focus on persuading Pinewood’s clients to film in Ireland and may consider opening up a studio in Ireland in the next two to five years if the company is successful.

***An interim examiner has been appointed to a company operating 13 Best Menswear stores across Ireland and two other fashion stores employing some 130 people.

The sudden closure of Clerys last month had a “catastrophic” effect on the cash flow of the company, Best, as it was a concession holder operating its largest store from the Dublin department store, the court heard.

The damage occurred as a result of the loss of some €270,000 held by Clerys in trust for Best arising from prior sales and the loss of trading revenues since Clerys closed, said Rossa Fanning BL, for the company.

Irish Times:

***A Czech property firm is threatening to sue Nama over the €80m sale of an asset, claiming that it was excluded from the disposal despite claiming that it would bid the highest price.

The Irish Times reports that the Savarin Palace project, which is owned by the Ballymore group, is set to be sold to Czech investment company Crestyl whose management includes a former Ballymore executive.

The underbidder, Flow East, is now threatening to sue Nama in Dublin and last week wrote to the agency saying that it is willing to “pay a price higher” than the winning bid.

***The Government is to look at plans to give developers more incentives to build student housing, the Irish Times reports.

A study by the Higher Education Authority identified a “significant shortage” of student accommodation in Dublin and, to a lesser extent, Cork, Galway and Limerick.

The HEA analysis is part of a report being prepared for Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan which is expected to make a number of policy recommendations including tax incentives and a programme of State investment in on-campus accommodation.

***Legal action between the owners of Bray Wanderers FC and three individuals in a dispute over the running of the club have been resolved.

Last week, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan granted Bray Wanderers Ltd temporary injunctions against John Deering, a former director, Paul Lennon, who had an agreement to sell advertising for Bray Wanderers, and former goalkeeper Darren Quigley.

When the case returned before the court yesterday, the judge was told the injunction case was not proceeding as the three defendants were prepared to give a number of undertakings.

Irish Examiner:

***Citibank North America has filed an appeal against a court ruling that appeared to favour AIB in a costly legal battle in New York over who is to blame for the losses of rogue trader John Rusnak.

The Irish Examiner reports that court documents filed last week Citibank requested the Manhattan court to reconsider part of its June 30 judgement, claiming that AIB has not shown clear evidence of its fraud claims.

Rusnak has long since completed his sentence, being released from prison in 2008. As a trader he hid hundreds of millions of dollars worth of losses while employed at AIB’s former US unit, Allfirst Bank in Baltimore.

***The head of Irish Water’s parent company has admitted that the controversial utility “came up short due to a series of failures, the Irish Examiner reports.

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School in Donegal Michael McNicholas, chairman of the Ervia which oversees Irish Water, conceded that the company may not be around after the general election.

He also acknowledged that Irish Water would be unable to survive without public support but denied the firm is riddled with a bonus culture and had spent exorbitantly on consultants.

***Ireland’s trade balance is expected to show a first increase in five years in 2015  as the recovery in the export market continues.

This is despite figures released by the CSO yesterday showing that there was a 5pc/€437m month-on-month dip in export value to just over €9bn in May, shrinking the trade surplus by 14pc compared to April’s figure.

However, on a year-on-year unadjusted basis the value of those exports was 8pc higher compared to the same month last year.

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