Here are the business stories you need to know about this morning:
***SuperValu is still the biggest supermarket chain in the country, with nearly a quarter of the Irish market, according to the latest survey of the market by Kantor Worldpanel.
The report shows that SuperValu had a 24.7pc market share in the 12 weeks to December 6. That was ahead of Tesco’s 24.1pc and Dunnes Stores 23.8pc.
SuperValu managed to increase its market share marginally during the period, with sales increasing about 3.7pc at the same time.
***Businessman Denis O’Brien has failed to get an injunction requiring the identification of a client of a public relations firm he claims is behind a conspiracy to damage him.
He sought the order against Dublin-based Red Flag Consulting over a dossier of material which shows the alleged conspiracy.
The dossier, contained on a USB computer memory stick, was sent to him anonymously in his Dublin offices last October. Mr O’Brien initiated proceedings against Red Flag and various executives and staff, including CEO Karl Brophy.
***Apple has formally challenged the British government’s bid to introduce new laws that would force companies to weaken their encryption.
In an unprecedented move, it has submitted written evidence before the Investigatory Powers Bill scrutiny committee in the UK Houses of Parliament.
The tech giant claims that the proposed new law, which purports to help British authorities fight terrorism, would weaken the security of “hundreds of millions” of people who use Apple’s iMessage and Facetime communications platforms.
***Most of the staff at Bank of Ireland are to get a pay increase worth 2.2pc next year and an additional 2.6pc in 2017, the Irish Times reports.
A report by an independent mediator recommends that a general pay rise be introduced for staff along with a seperate raise based on performance.
The general increase recommended for 2016 is 0.9pc while the recommended increase is 0.975pc in 2017.
***Shoes and jewellery helped to boost the performance at Dublin’s iconic Arnotts department store during its last financial year, as revenue rose 2.7pc to €114.2m in the 12 months to January 25, newly-filed accounts for the business show.
Arnotts has since been acquired by international retailer Selfridges, part of the Weston family empire. The accounts for Arnotts Ltd also show that Arnotts made an operating profit of €159,000 in the last fiscal period, compared to a pre-exceptional operating loss of €1.1m in the previous financial year.
The previous financial year had been flattered by a €9.9m exceptional gain in relation to the winding up of a pension scheme.
***The €10bn merger between Paddy Power and UK firm Betfair is expected to pass regulatory hurdles in time for the deal to close by the end of March, according to the chief executive of the Irish company.
Yesterday shareholders in both companies overwhelmingly approved the deal at meetings in Dublin and London.
Paddy Power chief executive Andy McCue said he is hopeful that Ireland's Competition and Consumer Protection Commission will approve the deal in time for it to close by the end of the first quarter of 2016.
***Less than two weeks after the takeover approach was first revealed, the board of Smurfit-backed packaging group Powerflute has terminated talks with US private equity group Madison Dearborn that valued the business at about €353m.
Listed on London's Alternative Investment Market, but based in Finland, Powerflute is 36pc-owned by the Smurfit family. Its executive chairman, Dermot Smurfit, owns 15.6pc of the company while an investment vehicle controlled by his brother, Michael Smurfit, owns 21.5pc.
Michael Smurfit had been working as a consultant to Madison Dearborn and his Bacchantes vehicle was set to back the bid and reinvest in the Powerflute business as part of a takeover. Dermot Smurfit would not have reinvested, however.
***It could be years before the proceeds of the sale of the Government’s stake in Aer Lingus, worth some €335m, is put to use improving the country’s infrastructure, the Irish Examiner reports.
The capital, contained in a new connectivity fund, has been earmarked for projects that will improve the State’s transport infrastructure.
The head of the Irish Strategic Investment fund, which controls the connectivity fund, has warned that it could be some time before any investment is made with the State’s proceeds from the sale.
***One third of hotels are concerned about the viability of their business despite the improved economic conditions.
According to research carried out by the Irish Hotels Federation, many hotels are dealing with legacy issues including large overhanging debts and an over reliance on the domestic market outside of tourism hotspots.
Despite the concerns 92pc of the country’s hotel and guesthouse owners are planning to invest in refurbishment and product development over the next year.