Saturday 24 February 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:

***Paddy Power and Betfair expect to shoulder £65m (€89m) in cash costs as they integrate their businesses over the next three years as part of their planned €8bn merger.

The companies also confirmed that the merged business will be headquartered in Dublin, and have its primary stock market listing in London, where it will join the FTSE-100.

Releasing additional details of the merger yesterday, Paddy Power and Betfair executives said they expect to generate annual cost savings of about £50m (€69m) within three years of the merger being completed.

***Crystal Amber, the activist investor firm that held a stake in Aer Lingus and had put pressure on IAG to pay a higher price as part of its takeover bid, made an £8.7m (€12m) profit from selling its shares in the airline.

The investment firm revealed the profit yesterday. Crystal Amber only acquired its 2.8pc Aer Lingus stake in summer last year. It was the single biggest institutional shareholder in the airline.

It’s believed that Crystal Amber established its position in Aer Lingus after buying some shares sold by businessman Denis O’Brien.

***Hotel prices have fallen in all of the country’s 15 most popular destinations except Dublin, according to a new European survey.

According to the Trivago Hotel Price Index (THPI), the average hotel price in Dublin will rise to €174 from €168 in August, an increase of 3.6pc.

The hotel-comparison website put the rise in Dublin prices down to a number of variables, including high profile GAA games.

Irish Times:

***Former lobbyist Frank Dunlop and former champion jockey Charlie Swan are among the list of 108 defaulters who reached settlements worth a combined total of €18.5m with Revenue in the second quarter of the year.

Mr Dunlop, who has an address at Rathbeggan, Dunboyne, Co Meath made a settlement of €429,198 after under-declaring income tax and VAT.

Three settlements were for more than €1m, including the highest settlement of €1.5m, which was made by medical doctor and company director Onone Humphrey Ugbawa, with an address at The Green, Ocean Links, Strandhill, Co Sligo.

***Irish Nationwide Building Society’s former CEO Michael Fingleton and ex-director John Stanley Purcell have launched High Court proceedings aimed at stopping the Central Bank from conducting an inquiry into alleged regulatory breaches.

The two, along with others, are the subject of the Central Bank’s inquiry into allegations relating to the period August 2004 to September 2008.

The inquiry, in the event of any finding of wrongdoing, has the power to impose a fine on an individual of up to €1m.

***Former International Monetary Fund official Ajai Chopra is expected to tell the Oireachtas banking inquiry that the European Central Bank pushed Ireland into a bailout package.

Mr Chopra, who is due to appear at the inquiry tomorrow, is expected to agree with the view of former Finance secretary general Kevin Cardiff that Ireland was put under pressure to enter its rescue programme.

The former IMF official, who between 2011 and 2013 helped to design Ireland’s bank bailout, is expected to say that discussions that began with then-government officials in late 2010 could not be classified as a request for government assistance.

Irish Examiner:

***The entire rail network could be crippled with strikes in the coming weeks after talks between unions and Irish Rail broke down at the labour Relations Court yesterday.

Last year Irish Rail sought to implement a series of pay cuts, citing a €108m reduction in its annual income since the start of the recession. Unions opposed the cuts and responded with strike action.

Dermot O’Leary, general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union, warned of strike action in the next two to three weeks after unions looked for engagement from management on the past productivity element of proposed pay reductions.

***Cityjet is considering expanding in Cork within the next year as it looks to launch a London Airport service from the facility next month.

The Irish airline announced the new service in July and signalled that there may be room for even more routes in the future. The service will consist of 18 flights a week.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Cityjet head of marketing and communications Martina McDermott said: “We’re [flying] Cork to London City Airport from October and I think the plan would be for next summer to have other routes out of Cork.”

***China’s imports tumbled in August, raising concerns about the health of the world’s second-largest economy and its contribution to global growth.

The data will add to the pressure on Beijing policy makers trying to ensure China’s economy avoids a hard landing, though authorities will take some comfort that their efforts to steady the country’s stock markets were rewarded with a late rally yesterday.

Imports dived 13.8pc from a year earlier, far more than analysts had forecast, and a tenth consecutive monthly drop, reflecting both lower global commodity prices and sluggish demand.

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