Sunday 25 February 2018

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

* Musgrave - the Cork-based retail group that controls the SuperValu and Centra chains - has stepped in to help bankroll Abrakebabra, taking a charge over assets belonging to the fast food group.

The agreement signed earlier this month brings Musgrave in as a lender to the Abrakebabra group, alongside existing backers, including a fund controlled by private equity giant Lone Star, and BlueBay Ireland.

* The European Central Bank is ready to temporarily step up purchases of Italian government bonds if the result of a crucial referendum on Sunday spooks the market, according to central bank sources.

Italian government debt and bank shares have sold off ahead of the December 4 referendum on constitutional reforms because of the risk of political turmoil. Opinion polls suggest the 'No' camp is heading for victory, which could force out Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in the latest upheaval against the ruling establishment sweeping the developed world.

* Unemployment in Ireland is now at its lowest level in almost eight years, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The latest data shows that the number of those on the live register has now more than halved since the peak of the crisis back in 2012, when unemployment hit a high of over 15pc.

The Irish Times

* The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, Ireland's fiscal watchdog, has said evidence is mounting that points towards a slowdown of the Irish economy.

The IFAC said the Government's economic growth targets are no assured and could need revision in light of Brexit.

* The Government's recently announced First-time buyers scheme will begin in January, the Revenue Commissioners have said.

Under the new scheme those looking to buy their first house next year will be able to apply for a 5pc tax rebate from January 3rd.

* The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and Fexco Asset Finance has launched a €70m leasing fund for Irish SMEs.

Businesses can avail of a 1.57pc discount for specialist equipment and vehicle leasing as part of the new fund.

Irish Examiner

* Michael Noonan's Budget, which was presented in October, broke European Commission rules, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council has said.

The State's fiscal watchdog also warned additional spending that may arise under breaches to the Landsdowne Road agreement was not taken into account when drafting the budget.

* Cinema operator UCI Ireland enjoyed a Star Wars bonanza last year as pre-tax profits at the business increased by 10pc to €1.24m. 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' opened in mid-December and quickly became the country's highest grossing movie of 2015, generating €4.76m at the box office.

The movie's success contributed to revenues at United Cinemas International (Ireland) Ltd increasing by 9pc, going from €10.79m to €11.73m in the 12 months to the end of December last.

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