Monday 18 December 2017

What it says in the papers: business pages

Paul O'Donoghue

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

Irish Independent:

***The Coalition will force the independent planning appeals body to explain its decisions to the public in an effort to speed up building projects.

A review of the workings of An Bord Pleanala is intended to result in faster and more transparent decision-making.

Within the Government, there is a view that the board is unaccountable and its operation is holding up infrastructural and smaller construction projects for years. As a result of a lack of public engagement, decisions are being appealed to the courts.

***An extra €12.5bn needs to be spent on public investment above and beyond current Government plans between now and 2020, business body Ibec has warned.

In its pre-budget submission, the lobby group said an extra €2.5bn spend is required each year until the end of the decade to meet infrastructure demands.

Ibec is urging the Government to use any political capital it has in Europe to persuade the European Commission to allow further exemption for Ireland from strict EU budgetary spending rules for all innovation and capital investment.

***Dublin-based Mainstream Renewable Power is in talks to sell a windfarm in the North Sea.

The Irish firm, which was founded by entrepreneur Eddie O’Connor, is reported to be in talks to sell the 450 megawatt Neart na Gaoithe project to a joint venture between US firm InterGen and Siemens Project Ventures.

According to industry journal Sparkspread, the deal would be US-based InterGen’s first investment in the offshore wind sector, though it has bid on previous offshore parks.

Irish Times:

***The HSE has become extremely concerned at the policy of hiring agency staff to fill vital service roles in the organisation, according to the Irish Times.

The newspaper cites an internal briefing document as putting the need to hire temporary staff down to a combination of factors including; “lower pay, unattractive geographic locations, together with a shortage of certain types of professionals”.

Last year the HSE spent a record €336m on agency staff and overtime to fill vacancies, up from €259m in 2012.

***German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is open to the idea of diverting some of his country’s capital to help fund a new “euro budget”.

An EU working group is looking at the possibility of a eurozone “fiscal capacity” where a European budget would be raised from either a harmonised corporation tax or financial transaction tax.

German magazine Der Spiegel says that Mr Schaeuble and his officials are eager to support the French revival of the policy of a European “economic government”.

***Bank of Ireland lent out €2.5bn to small and medium businesses and also approved 90pc of credit applications in the first half of the year, according to figures released by the organisation.

Loan approval ratings remained constant while credit approval ratings were up by 18pc compared to the same period last year.

In the first six months of the year the bank received about 34,000 business banking credit applications, up by about 8pc on the same period in 2014

Irish Examiner:

***The banking inquiry is expected to be given legal advice today on whether it can hear evidence from ex-Anglo chief executive David Drumm via video link.

The prospect of Mr Drumm, who is the subject of an extradition effort by the Irish authorities, giving his evidence by video link from the US has risked splitting the 11-member committee and derailing the investigation which is now in its final weeks.

The Director of Public Prosecutions is expected to decide today of the inquiry can hear from Mr Drumm or if the act would risk prejudicing any court proceedings.

***Irish Water has sent bills to 90,000  ghost houses as it continues to struggle to identify its customers, the Irish Examiner reports.

The expected revenue from the homes, which would have been about €24m over the course of the year, will now have to be written off.

Michael McNicholas, the chief executive of the utility’s parent company, Ervia, has said that work on building a more accurate customer database is continuing.

***British publishing group Pearson is in talks to offload its 50pc stake in The Economist to other shareholders in the weekly newspaper.

The move comes  after the group’s decision to sell the Financial Times to Japanese media group Nikkei for €1.2bn.

Pearson did not name potential buyers although one of the shareholders in the paper, Italy’s Agnelli family, has said that it wants to raise its stake in the publication.

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