Tuesday 20 March 2018

What it says in the papers: business pages

Paul O'Donoghue

Here are the business stories you need to know about this morning:

Irish Independent:

***The chief executive of Shannon Group is to leave his role when his contract expires next year in what could be a major blow for the region. The group is responsible for the operation of Shannon Airport.

Aviation veteran Neil Pakey was appointed chief executive of the airport company in May 2013, just five months after it gained independence from the DAA, which now controls Dublin and Cork airports.

Despite showering each other with praise in a statement released yesterday, it is believed that tensions have arisen between Mr Pakey and Shannon Group chairperson Rose Hynes. Ms Hynes resigned in October as chairperson of Ervia, the State-owned company that controls Irish Water.

***The Irish Aviation Authority will consider ditching plans to build a huge 87-metre tall control tower at Dublin Airport and instead use remote technology that would enable the function to be based at a regular building away from the runway.

Such a move could save millions in construction costs.

Still in their infancy, remote towers typically use specialised video and other equipment to give controllers a virtual live view the same as that they would have if they were in a physical tower near a runway.

***The State’s debt management agency is planning to issue between €6bn and €10bn worth of long-term bonds over the course of next year.    

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) said it intends to hold at least one syndicated bond deal during the year, and will issue a statement at the beginning of each quarter outlining the auction plans for the coming months.

The amount of debt planned to be issued is lower that the €13bn worth of bonds issued this year, even with an April deadline looming to redeem an €8bn bond.


Irish Times:

***Increases in take home pay as a result of the Lansdowne agreement are set to help push the gross exchequer pay bill for next year up to almost €15.5bn, more than €268m on the forecast out-turn for 2015.

Gross expenditure on public pensions is set to drop €14.8m next year to €2.9bn, according to figures from Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin.

The net exchequer pay bill is set to reach €15.45bn, up by 1.4pc on the 2015 estimate.

***The Central Bank has decided to investigate all lenders that offered tracker mortgages during the boom to see if customers’ rights to keep them have been fully honoured.

Letters went yesterday to all lenders that offered trackers, both for family homes and investment properties. The probe covers the time they started to offer trackers up to the end of this year.

It will include AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, KBC Bank Ireland and ACC. It will also cover banks that have left the market or gone out of business and the service companies now managing these mortgages on behalf of vulture fund owners.

***Mortgage approvals fell by 8pc in the year to November leading to calls from some quarters for the Central Bank to relax its strict lending rules.

According to figures from the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland, in the three months to the end of November 2,531 mortgages were approved, a decrease of 8pc compared to the year before.

Chief operations officer at broker group PIBA said a tapering of the Central Bank rules is “more than justified”.


Irish Examiner:

***The State-subsidised National Broadband Plan, which is to cover 757,000 rural homes and businesses, could face significant legal difficulties and delays, the Irish Examiner reports.

The Government has allocated €275m for the project so far and launched a tender process for bidders to provide broadband to the 757,000 addresses despite plans by Eir to introduce services to 300,000 of those businesses and homes.

The intention of both Eir and the National Broadband Plan to provide broadband services to the 300,000 addresses could put the two parties on a collision course as the Government is prohibited under EU rules from providing services in areas where a commercial operator has plans.

***US-based Fidelity Worldwide Investment has been trawling Ireland as the economy grows more quickly than anywhere else in the developed world.

The company’s €3.7bn Special Situations Fund is investing in Irish stocks including Bank of Ireland, hotelier Dalata and homebuilder Cairn Homes, tapping into an economy growing about 7pc this year.

The Boston-based financial giant has been buying into the Irish recovery through stocks in domestically focused public companies. The Irish stock index is among the best performers in Europe, gaining more than 28pc.

***Business group Iec recorded a loss of €564,308 last year amid restructuring costs.

New accounts for the organisation, which provides a range of services to its 7,500 members, show it increased its revenue last year by more than half a million euros to €17.78m.

The main factor in the loss was a restructuring cost of €856,629 after Ibec carried out a major review of its operations.

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