Monday 19 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:

***Former Eircom boss Herb Hribar is believed to have received the bulk of a €9.8m payment made by the telco last year as compensation for loss of office.

Mr Hribar quit the company in September last year after Eircom pulled a planned €3bn-plus stock market flotation.

That flotation could have seen him and other senior executives including then chief financial officer Richard Moat reportedly split as much as €60m in bonuses. Mr Moat was appointed chief executive after Mr Hribar’s departure. Details of the compensation paid were revealed in Eircom’s annual bondholder report published yesterday.

***Tesco has retained its position as the county’s top grocery retailer as it continues to fend off challenger SuperValu for domination of the multi-billion euro market.

SuperValu, the brand controlled by Cork-based retail group Musgrave, snatched the title away from Tesco in the spring, but Tesco subsequently regained and retained the top spot.

But there’s still a razor-thin margin between the pair.

The latest figures from research group Kantar Worldpanel show that Tesco had a 24.8pc share of the grocery market during the 12 weeks to August 16. That compares to the 24.5pc held by SuperValu.

***Former concession holders at the closed down Clerys department store are to receive about 30c for every euro they are owed.

At a meeting of Clerys’ creditors yesterday, the company’s liquidators said there would be €400,000 available to concession holders.

The concession holders have long contended they are owed around €2m which should have been held for them in a trust. The liquidators, Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson of KPMG, are understood to have accepted that the concession holders have a valid claim to about €1.3m

Irish Times:

***Some mortgage customers of Permanent TSB who were wrongly denied a move from a fixed mortgage to a tracker mortgage have been told that the majority of the payments that they are owed from the bank will be used to pay off their loan arrears.

The move is part of the financial redress scheme put in place by PTSB after it was found that 1,372 of the bank’s customers were entitled to tracker mortgages but were forced by the bank to pay much higher standard variable rates.

The Irish Times reports that the Irish Mortgage Holders Association has become aware of about 35 customers who are in arrears who have been told that the most of the interest that was overpaid is to be put against the warehoused portion of their split mortgages.

***Stock markets across the world came in for a bruising yesterday as concerns over weak global growth were rekindled by weak manufacturing data from China and the US.

The S&P 500 was down by 2.6pc to 1,921 in New York by mid afternoon, nearly 10pc down from the high it reached in May.

European equities also saw losses, with the FTSE 100 in London down by 3pc while Chinese stocks swung wildly throughout the day, slipping by as much as 5.8pc before recovering some lost ground to close 1.3pc down.

***Unemployment rose slightly last month, the first time it has done so in the past two years, according to new statistics.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office suggested that the number of workers classed as unemployed rose by 400 to 206,500 in August.

Although this was the first time that there had been an increase in 26 months, overall unemployment remained at a six year low of 9.5pc.

Irish Examiner:

***The country’s commercial property sector is set to see a flurry of activity in the second half of the year, the Irish Examiner reports.

Commercial property group CBRE, which yesterday released its bi-monthly research report, anticipates that up to €800m of opportunities will be brought to market in the second half of the year.

The occupier sectors of the commercial property market; office, retail and industrial, saw an expected drop off in activity in July and August. However, the newspaper reports that this will likely be reversed and there will be a “wave of activity in the market in the last four months of the year.

***Manufacturing expanded at its weakest level in a year and a half last month, with output, new orders and employment rising at a softer rate.

Investec’s latest Purchasing Managers’ Index for the sector was down from 56.7 in July to 53.6 in August but still well ahead of the 50 point mark which represents growth.

Although the sector has been in growth for the past 27 months, in August companies reported a drop in new orders both at home and abroad, while the number of staff taken on by firms dropped back to its slowest level since July of last year.

***New figures show that the collapsed firm behind Irish Psychics Live has left debts of over €2m to unsecured creditors.

The firm, Realm Communications, was behind what was Ireland’s most high profile premium phone line service before it ceased trading in 2013.

In February 2014, Eamon Leahy of Leahy & Co, Fairview, Dublin, was appointed as liquidator to the firm.

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