Sunday 22 July 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 developer behind the planned Chicago Spire has taken a court action against Nama over the attempted enforcement of personal guarantees and other loans tied to the development.

Lawyers for Garrett Kelleher and his company, Shelbourne North Water Street, have filed papers with US bankruptcy court in Illinois against Nama and debt management firm Capita after Capita attempted to collect loans worth $8.1m from Mr Kelleher.

Mr Kelleher is seeking a declaration that he and his company have been released from those loans. He is also seeking punitive damages as a result of Capita and Nama’s “wilful violation of the releases”.

***Nama is coming under intense political pressure to appear before Stormont’s finance committee to face questions over the controversial € sale of its Northern Ireland loan book.

The sale has been shrouded in controversy following allegations made in the Dáil about the existence of a secret off-shore account containing a large sum of money which it was claimed was earmarked for politicians.

But Nama has shot down a request from the committee to send senior officials to a hearing in the North to discuss the allegations surrounding the so-called ‘Project Eagle’ loan book.

***Amarenco, the solar energy development firm headed by former Bord Gais boss John Mullins, has been short-listed to buy French firm Fonroche in what would be a major transformational, multi-million euro deal for the Irish company.

It’s believed Amarenco is in the running against France-based Voltalia to buy the business, which owns and manages solar energy plants in France, and has a number of large projects under development.

Industry journal ‘Sparkspread’ revealed that both firms have been asked by Rothschild to file revised bids next month. Fonroche generated €200m in revenue last year.

Irish Times:

***KBC Bank Ireland could be in line for a merger with either Permanent TSB or Ulster Bank following comments that its parent company would look to divest its interest once the bank becomes profitable again, the Irish Times reports.

Yesterday KBC announced a second quarter profit of €18m and said that it would return to full year profitability in 2016.

John Cronin, head of financials with Investec, said that there are questions around the bank’s future in Ireland given comments in the group results about its core bank insurance business in mainland Europe. He said that a sale of the bank is a possible option.

***The average salary package for chartered accountants in Leinster has shot up to over €100,000, according to a new study.

The survey from the Chartered Accountants Leinster Society shows that the average total salary package increased by 13pc, jumping from €89,042 in 2014 to €100,780 in 2015.

The average salary package comprises the total of the basic salary plus any bonuses and car allowance or a car which was valued at €10,000 for the purpose of the survey.

***Consumer sentiment has hit its highest levels since the height of the boom, driven by a surge in spending on cars and household goods, according to a new study.

The latest Consumer Market Monitor from the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School and the Marketing Institute also found that consumer spending is contributing to economic growth for the first time since 2008.

The survey found that retail sales increased by 5.7pc in the first half of the year and 3.7pc in 2014.

Irish Examiner:

***The Government has warned the tourism sector not to hike prices after it was announced yesterday that the first half of 2015 was the best ever for tourism figures, the Irish Examiner reports.

The number of overseas visitors grew by 407,100, or 11pc in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2014, according to data from the CSO.

Tourism minister Paschal Donohoe warned that even though the sector is improving “we must be mindful of the mistakes in the past”. He added: “Our value for money rating has improved dramatically in recent years...we must now make sure that these efforts have not been in vain.”

***Irish international food giant Kerry Group is to spend as much as €500m on acquisitions this year, the Irish Examiner reports.

At the presentation of the company’s interim results yesterday chief executive Stan McCarthy said that the group has had €250m of businesses since the start of the year, with several buys awaiting completion.

He added that management is now eyeing up more international deals to boost Kerry’s taste and nutrition offering and said that the total year’s spend should top €500m.

***A firm takeover offer for Irish mobile commerce company Zamano could be made within the next six weeks, the Irish Examiner reports.

The Dublin-based company, which specialises in monetising digital content such as ringtones and text services, confirmed last week that it had received an early stage, conditional offer worth €0.20 per share with an unnamed company.

The newspaper reports that Zamano’s board may be in a position to put a formal offer to its shareholders within six weeks.

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