Friday 20 April 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:

***The Government has launched a blistering attack on Eurostat, accusing the statistics agency of misrepresenting “fundamental issues of fact” when it ruled that Irish Water’s borrowings must remain on the State’s balance sheet.

In a robust defence of its handling of Irish Water, the Government claims Eurostat used “grossly erroneous” research to make damaging findings on the Coalition’s control of the utility company.

In correspondence to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) from the Department of Environment, officials outlined 26 serious concerns with the Eurostat research that caused huge embarrassment for the Government last week.

***The battle for control of the prized Blackrock Clinic in Dublin has taken a new twist after the businessman at the centre of the row secured new backing to pay off a loan.

Joseph Sheehan, who is in a dispute with fellow shareolder Larry Goodman over the clinic, is understood to have agreed a deal for financing with US private equity company HIG Capital.

Under the deal, HIG is expected to lend Mr Sheehan a figure close to €50m.

The Irish Independent understands that over two-thirds of those funds are earmarked to repay a loan that was originally advanced by Anglo Irish Bank but is now owned by a company which is controlled by Mr Goodman.

***A ‘kid safe’ digital marketing service founded by Irish serial entrepreneur Dylan Collins has closed a $7m (€6.4m) funding round as it seeks to expand.

The company, SuperAwesome, has developed an advertising platform that claims a reach of 250 million children worldwide through partners with multiple online networks. It counts Hasbro, mattel and Lego among the brands it works with.

The technology behind it does not target kids’ behaviour or track their activity, a facet that is allowing it to grow in an increasingly regulated environment.

Irish Times:

***The Government is set to benefit from a surge in corporate tax payments as it prepares for the October budget, the Irish Times reports.

The exchequer is currently €900m ahead of target with corporation tax being the best contributor to that figure, as it was €653m above profile.

The latest exchequer receipts were €800m ahead of target in the first half of the year and €893m above profile by the end of July, and improvement of just under €100m in one month.

***Accountancy firm Grant Thornton has moved closer to matching the “Big Four” in Ireland after it agreed a deal to merge with RSM Farrell Grant Sparks.

The amalgamation, which must get regulatory and competition approval, will see Grant Thornton’s workforce grow to 750 staff and 51 partners.

When the deal is completed it will consolidate Grant Thornton’s position as the fifth largest accountancy firm in the country and bring it a step closer to challenging the dominance of the so-called ‘Big Four’; Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, EY and KPMG.

***Net income at Dublin-based aircraft leasing firm Avolon jumped by 133pc to $56m (€51m in the three months to the end of June.

The company, which is currently a takeover target, reported a 13.3pc gain on aircraft disposals and said its 2016 commitments stand at almost $1.4bn, with all deliveries in place until next July.

Chief executive Domhnal Slattery declined to comment on two rival bids for the firm that rival it at $30 and $31 a share but said: “I would describe the bidders as highly credible who are capable of completing a transaction of scale”.

Irish Examiner:

***One of the largest co-ops in the State, Lakeland Dairies, has struck an agreement with a Northern Ireland business, Fane Valley, that will see them process more than a billion litres of milk in a €670m joint venture.

Both farmer owned co-ops will continue to operate independently although it is envisaged that the possibility of a full merger will potentially be considered in the future.

The move between the Cavan-based processor and the Co Down co-op will also see the merging of their feed manufacturing, sales and stores into a major agribusiness company with projected revenues of €175m.

***Nama is expected to resist attempts to get it to appear in Belfast to answer questions about the sale of its entire Northern Ireland property portfolio, the Irish Examiner reports.

The finance committee of the Stormont Assembly are attempting to compel Nama to give evidence after allegations by Independent TD Mick Wallace that €10m of the proceeds of the sale of the portfolio last year were earmarked for a politician in the North.

Nama and the private companies involved in the sale have denied any wrongdoing.

***The value of savings in private pensions surged by €16bn last year, according to the Irish Association of Pension Funds.

This is despite the fact that the Government has extracted an estimated €2.5bn in levies over the past four years.

The organisation, which represents the largest corporate pension funds and pension investment managers, said that savings have now surged to almost €108bn. This is an increase of 70pc since the end of 2008.

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