Wednesday 25 April 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:

***A 7pc slump in Chinese stocks reverberated across global shares yesterday, marking a bleak start to the year for international markets amid renewed growth concerns.

Compounding investor jitters, tensions intensified in the Middle East between oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Iran. And those tensions pushed oil prices up temporarily amid fears supplies could be disrupted as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain both cut ties with Iran.

Global oil benchmark Brent, which fell 35pc last year because of concerns of over-supply in a global slowdown, climbed more than a dollar to a high of $38.50 per barrel, but then fell back.

***Irish packaging giant Smurfit Kappa has made its first foray into Brazil, cementing its presence in Latin America with the acquisition of two businesses for a total of €186m.

One of the largest paper and packaging groups in the world, Smurfit Kappa has bought privately-owned Industria de Embalagens, and Paema Embalagens. Between them, they operate three recycled container board mills, as well as four corrugated production plants located in the northeast and south of Brazil.

Smurfit Kappa has long been eyeing a potential entry to Brazil. It already has operations in countries such as Venezuela, Argentina, Columbia, Mexico, Ecuador, and Costa Rica.

***Developer Gerry Gannon – one of the so-called Maple 10 enlisted to support Anglo Irish Bank before it collapsed – has applied for planning permission for a huge project in north Dublin that will include the restoration of Belcamp Hall, a protected, but derelict Georgian building.

Mr Gannon acquired the more than 81-hectare site – formerly the home of the Belcamp College – in 2004 for €105m. The historic house at the location has been subject to arson attacks and vandalism.

He now plans to build over 250 houses and apartments on a 15 hectare portion of the site, as well as retail, restaurant and community facilities.


Irish Times:

***The Government looks set to cut its borrowing target for the year in light of tax returns, due to be published today, that are expected to show strong collection figures in the final quarter of the year.

The Irish Times reports that a number of factors, such as a once-off return of €1.6bn from AIB in December, will likely mean that borrowing last year will come in at 2pc of GDP compared to official estimates of 2.1pc.

This is expected to have a knock on effect and Finance Minister Michael Noonan is expected to lower the borrowing target of 1.2pc of GDP for the year.

***Bank of Ireland has redeemed €1.3bn in preference shares that were held by private investors, the Irish Times reports.

The move clears the bank to begin repaying dividends to shareholders, probably in 2017.

Redeeming the shares will save the bank €133.35m a year. The shares were purchased using the organisation’s existing resources and retained profits.

***Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre is in line for a €10m upgrade as it looks to attract a new anchor tenant.

Coltard, the owner of the centre, is seeking planning permission to create two large anchor stores fronting onto the Dublin town’s Maine Road and George’s Street.

The work is estimated to cost €10m and is expected to to be completed at some stage in the second quarter of 2017.


Irish Examiner:

***Former Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) chief Michael Fingleton has lost his High Court action aimed at preventing the Central Bank from conducting an inquiry into alleged regulatory breaches at the financial institution.

Mr Fingleton, along with several other former officials of INBS, are the subject of a Central Bank inquiry that is due to start hearings in February.

He challenged the Central Bank’s decision to subject him to an inquiry, claiming it was unfair and unreasonable.

***Operations at Ireland’s only oil refinery could be secured through a joint venture of by moving into cleaner fuels, according to a leading analyst.

Whitegate refinery in Cork was put up for sale by its owner, Phillips 66, in November. It is likely to come into sharper focus in the coming months as stakeholders look to secure the 300 jobs at the facility.

FDE| head of refining Steve Sawyer said if the Government was willing to put a system in place that covered the costs of the facility it would be likely that there would be “some interest there”. He said the final decision is more likely to be based on political factors.

***The risk of Britain leaving the EU could be nearly as high as 50pc, it has been claimed.

In its latest global economic outlook French financial services giant Societe Generale estimated that the likelihood of a “Brexit” is at 45pc.

The organisation estimates that the British economy would grow by just 0.5pc to 1pc every year until at least 2026 if a Brexit were to occur.

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