Saturday 20 January 2018

In Brief: Two Irish researchers selected for European grants worth €2m

R&D

TWO Irish researchers have been selected for European Research Council Consolidator Grants worth €2m each over five years. The recipients are Marie-Louise Coolahan from NUI Galway and Martin Albrecht from University College Dublin.

Mr Albrecht's winning project looks at sustainable pathways for the efficient production of pharmaceutical drugs and for energy storage. The funding will allow him to hire 12 researchers and post-doctoral candidates to assist.

Ms Coolahan's winning project looks at the impact of women's writing on wider society between 1550 and 1700. The grant will enable her to recruit five post-doctoral researchers.

VALLEY WORKERS SUE TECH FIRMS OVER STAFF DEAL

ROUGHLY 60,000 Silicon Valley workers have won clearance in a US court to pursue a lawsuit accusing Apple, Google and other companies of conspiring to drive down pay by not poaching each other's staff.

They are now free to pursue what the defendants said could exceed $9bn in damages.

Much of the case is built on emails between top officials, including the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, that the plaintiffs said reflected understandings not to raid each other's talent.

The case began in 2011 when five software engineers sued Apple, Google, Adobe Systems, Intel and others over an alleged "overarching conspiracy" to suppress pay by agreeing not to recruit or hire each other's employees.

These defendants were accused of violating antitrust laws by conspiring to eliminate competition for labour, depriving workers of job mobility and hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.

BURBERRY BEATS ESTIMATES AS SHOPPERS LOG ON

BURBERRY, the UK's largest luxury-goods maker, said quarterly revenue beat estimates as shoppers spent more through digital channels.

The company's shares rose as much as 7.2pc yesterday morning, their most since July, after Burberry said retail revenue advanced 14pc to £528m (€637m) in the three months ended December.

Burberry's outperformance contrasts with comments by Italian suitmaker Ermenegildo Zegna, which said last week that October and November "were not good months overall."

"This is a strong performance in a slowing sector," Allegra Perry, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald in London, said in reference to Burberry.

Investment in areas such as service and collect-in-store facilities helped digital sales outperform, compensating for weak shopper numbers in its boutiques, Burberry said.

Outerwear and large leather goods contributed about half of so-called mainline growth.

BILLIONAIRE WINS APPROVAL FOR HUGE EXTENSION

BILLIONAIRE John Caudwell, the founder of mobile-phone retailer Phones4U, has won approval for an extension that's almost 10 times the size of the average UK home for a property in London's affluent Mayfair district.

Mr Caudwell (61) can develop an additional 10,097 square feet of living space connecting two houses near Curzon Street, known as hedge-fund alley.

Regulations protecting older buildings and preventing high-rise construction has led to a shortage of space in West End neighbourhoods including Mayfair, prompting owners to extend properties to make them more valuable.

Caudwell, who sold Phones4U for £1.46bn (€1.76bn) in 2006, plans to include a swimming pool, games room, sauna and car elevator as part of the extension, according to a filing to the borough.

The new home would measure more than 50,000 square feet, according to a filing to the borough on behalf of Caudwell. The average size of a family home in the UK is about 97 square meters.

WOMEN ARE HEDGING BETTER THAN THE MEN

FEMALE hedge fund managers have outperformed their male rivals, on average, for the second year in a row, according to professional services firm Rothstein Kass which tracks the industry.

From January 1, 2013, through the end of November, the small number of hedge funds around the world run by women returned 9.8pc while industry standard the HFRX Global Hedge Fund index was up only 6.13pc, Rothstein Kass said.

Director Meredith Jones said the comparison could feed speculation that women are better investors.

"There have been studies that show that testosterone can make men less sensitive to risk-reward signals, and that comes through in this study," she said.

The numbers are even more eye-popping for the six years from January 2007 through June 2013. Hedge funds run by women returned 6pc compared with a 1.1pc loss at the HFRX Global Fund Index.

Together, hedge funds run by women manage only a tiny fraction of the broader industry's $2.5tr (€1.8tr).

Irish Independent

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