Tuesday 20 March 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:

***China devalued its currency yesterday after a run of poor economic data, sparking fears of a global currency war.

Officials said the currency move, which makes it cheaper for Chinese firms to sell their goods abroad, was a free-market reform. However, economists suspect it could be the beginning of a longer-term slide in the exchange rate.

The move triggered the biggest one-day fall in China’s yuan since a massive devaluation in 1994 when China aligned its official and market rates.

***Financial markets in Greece surged, the country’s borrowing costs fell and the euro rose yesterday after Athens clinched a third bailout deal “in principle” with its creditors worth around €85bn.

The single currency hit an 11-day high against the dollar in the wake of the three-year deal, after it dropped against the US currency as China’s move to devalue the yuan spurred investors to seek a safe haven in the greenback. But the Greek deal restored the euro’s appeal.  

While news of the agreement drove the Athens stock market up by more than 2pc, it failed to lift other European markets, which closed down in the wake of China’s devaluation decision.

***Angry Airbnb hosts have vented their frustration with the website’s management after the company said it intends to hand over homeowners’ details to the Revenue Commissioners.

The company said it will challenge a Revenue clarification stating that homeowners letting out rooms on the website on a short-term basis are not eligible to earn up to €12,000 tax-free under the rent-a-room scheme.

Airbnb has failed to rule out taking court action against Revenue’s decision. However, it has also stated that all earnings people make through the site must be classed as taxable income for Revenue purposes.


Irish Times:

***Shares in One51 yesterday sold for higher than the €1.80 offer currently on the table by private equity fund Capvest, funding speculation that a higher bid could be on the horizon.

Capvest has indicated that it is willing to pay €1.80 a share, about €290m, to acquire the Irish investments company. However, 4,000 shares in One51 sold yesterday for €1.82, ahead of Capvest’s likely offer price.

Despite this the Irish Times reports that the private equity fund is not likely to up the price for One51 discussed with it and shareholders.

***More investment is needed in Dublin city than in the other three local authorities combined to develop land zoned for housing, a Government report has found.

The Dublin Housing Supply Task Force has found that work on 50,000 homes that could potentially be built in the capital cannot start until the Government invests €165m in vital infrastructure.

The taskforce recommended that €63m be spent this year and next year as a “priority investment” in the four local authorities to allow “priority areas” to be ready for development.

***Households spent more on restaurants, hotels and shopping last month, as consumer spending accelerated, according to credit card company Visa.

Consumer spending on all payment types increased by just over 6pc year-on-year last month, improving on the 5.6pc increase in June, according to the latest Irish Consumer Spending Index from Visa Europe.

Spending rose by close to 8pc on hotels, restaurants and bars, while shoppers also spent more on clothes and shoes, rising by 7.8pc year-on-year.


Irish Examiner:

***Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick has launched a High Court action aimed at preventing his trial before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court from going ahead.

Mr FitzPatrick is facing a number of charges including making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and of furnishing false information from 2002 to 2007.

The trial has been scheduled to begin on October 5. Last week, Circuit Court Judge Martin Nolan ruled that the trial should proceed in October, after he had rejected an application for an adjournment made on behalf of the former banker.

***Fastnet Oil and Gas has become the first Irish casualty of the recent crash in international oil prices, opting to leave the exploration sector and focusing on pharmaceuticals.

The company, which is to change its name to Fastnet Equity, said it will now channel its near €14m warchest into pharmaceutical deals.

Shareholders will vote on the proposals at an extraordinary general meeting in London on August 20. The firm has exploration assets off the coast of Ireland and Morocco.

***Sales at the Irish arm of UK betting giant Ladbrokes dropped by 5pc in the first six months of the year, even as operating profits of £2.5m (€3.5m) were unchanged compared to the same period in 2014.

The amount staked on bets by Irish punters in Ladbrokes shops came to £235.9m, down by nearly 5pc compared to the first six months of last year.

The company’s Irish arm exited a three-month examinership process at the beginning of this month, with the number of the bookie’s outlets dropping by just over 50 to 144.

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