Wednesday 22 November 2017

What it says in the papers: business pages

Michael Cogley

Michael Cogley

Here are the main business stories from this morning's papers:

Irish Independent

* Economic historians will reflect on Election 2016 and wonder how the imminent prospect of a British withdrawal from the European Union was barely raised as an issue in the campaign, economic consultancy DKM has warned.

With the pound trading yesterday at a 14-year-low against the euro and hovering around a seven-year low against the dollar, DKM chair Brendan Dowling said the Brexit debate will undoubtedly lead to a slowdown in UK growth, even if Britons vote to remain in the EU.

"These factors will differentially affect Ireland given the nature and scale of its links to the UK," Mr Dowling said.

* The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has criticised moves by the Pensions Authority to effectively end the role of worker trustees of pension schemes.

The intervention by congress comes weeks after its former general secretary, David Begg, took over as chairman of the Pensions Authority.

Outgoing Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton offered Mr Begg the role, a decision that created controversy because she did not use the public service advertising or the appointments process.

* Jobs at RSA Insurance in Ireland may be at risk as part of the company's cost reduction plans with the firm aiming to turn a profit this year.

The insurer has ramped up cost-cutting plans across the group from a target of £250m (€317m) in 2017 to £350m by 2018.

The news comes after the company announced 50 jobs in its new Galway operations centre in Knocknacarra last week.

The Irish Times

* AIG, the world's biggest insurer, has urged Ireland to get rid off whiplash claims in order to keep the soaring cost of motor insurance premiums down.

The firm's general manager Declan O'Rourke, said whiplash claims in Ireland were out of balance with the rest of Europe.

Mr O'Rourke was speaking in an exclusive interview in Business This Week, where he said that Ireland had the most expensive necks in Europe with average whiplash claims costing around €15,000 here.

* US Investor firm, Cerberus, has written off €4.6bn in Irish property debt off the €12.5bn it bought over the last two years.

Cerberus bought up the €12.5bn in property debt over three deals between the years of 2014 and 2015.

In a letter written by the firm's European chief executive, Liam Strong, the company announced that the €4.6bn includes €1.6bn written-off debts bought as part of the Project Eagle portfolio.

* Microsoft in Ireland has become embroiled in a dispute between the firm and the US government, in which the the state authorities are seeking access to hand over customer emails held in Dublin.

Mircosoft's chief legal officer, Brad Smith, said the company's goal was to continue one of the world's largest data centres in Ireland.

However, the Microsoft chief said the dispute would raise a new set of risks for its Irish operation.

Irish Examiner

* Irish Internet users are being charged almost double the European average when it comes to cruical broadband servies.

In a new survey of the European Union, Ireland ranked 20th for fixed broadband services, with just 65pc of household being serviced by it.

The results from the survey says that Irish broadband costs as a proportion of Irish income remains very high, as was warned in the previous year.

* Small and medium enterprises are have not been at the forefront of parties' priorities however, progress has been promised to them by both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Both parties have pledged to bring down the rate of capital gains tax in line with the UK by dropping from its current rate of 20pc down to 10pc.

Meanwhile Renua has opted for a tiered approach between 10pc and 20pc based on the length of time the investment has been made.

* RSA slashed its operating losses at its Irish operations by over 70pc last year after the firm published its annual accounts for 2015.

In the accounts the company posted an operating loss of £26m for Ireland, down from £97m in the previous year.

On a group level the firm's operating profit for last year grew by 43pc up to £523m.

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