There are three pages of coverage on a report into the performance of NAMA which was commissioned by property developer David Daly, prepared by economist Jim Power and validated by Lisneys. The report found that NAMA “would have secured an additional €18bn for the taxpayer if it had held and managed assets, as opposed to its strategy of large scale disposals”. David Daly writes a piece himself about the same report.
The IDA will not be renewing its incentive scheme which pays individuals €1,500 per position created in Ireland. The previous scheme was run on behalf of the IDA by Connect Ireland and the company is now seeking €15m - €20m in damages from the IDA for not recognising all the positions it claims to have created. An initial target of 5,000 positions was originally sought, however the IDA claim only 535 were created while connect Ireland claim it to be 1,046 with an additional 2,200 promised.
Management at Bus Éireann are reported to be considering examinership as an option to restructure the company’s finances. The strike by employees is costing the company €125,000 in fines for non-delivery of services by the National Transport Authority.
Alan McIntosh’s Emerald Investment Partners is reported to be in talks with a French fund to sell its stake in the Carechoice nursing home group for over €60m for the homes and an additional €10m for its development sites. The Business Post reports that the French fund is “rumoured” to be prepared to pay c. 9x EBITDA for the homes.
The Irish Times is reported to be considering the acquisition of Cork’s Irish Examiner newspaper.
Tony O’Reilly’s bankruptcy trustee will take control of his remaining shares in Providence Resources, the oil exploration company he founded 20 years ago.
Pharmacy and lifestyle chain Cara, founded in 2002 by former Dragon’s Den panellist Ramona Nicholas and her husband Canice, is planning to open the first Cara store in Dublin. The company, which employs 187 staff and had revenues of €25.3m in 2015-16, has 15 stores based in the west and north-west.
Labour Leader Brendan Howlin is calling for the proceeds from the government’s sale of AIB shares to be allocated for infrastructure projects rather than paying down the state’s debt. Such a move would require EU approval.
Brandtone, the Dublin-based mobile marketing firm, is set to be wound up after examiner Michael McAteer advised the court last week that he was unsuccessful in attempts to turnaround the business during the examinership process. The company employs 100 people and has debts of €41m.
Firms connected with developers Johnny Ronan and Patrick Crean are in dispute over waste removed from Ronan’s Spencer Dock development which Crean’s firm claims contains hazardous materials. Crean’s business, Integrated Materials Solutions, was contracted to dispose of the material. Ronan’s business, Spencer Place Development Company Ltd, claims that there was no hazardous material in the waste.
Louis Murray, the former owner of the Dawson St property which housed La Stampa, Samsara and the Dawson hotel, is seeking damages of €30m against AIB for selling the property for below its market value. The Bank sold the property for €17.5m after putting it on the market at €15m, however Murray claims to have a DNG valuation of €27m on the property.
Irish protein bar maker Fulfil has agreed a six-figure contract to have their bars stocked in WH Simth’s 440 stores. The expanding Irish company, founded by Niall McGrath and Tom Gannon, will send their first orders into Dubai, Kuwait, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia this year. The company expects to sell more than 40m bars this year, up from 15m last year.
The Murray Group, which bought the Camden Deluxe property on Camden St, Dublin for €8.5m is planning to invest a further €3m into refurbishing the property into a major pub and club venue. The new venue will have a sports bar, traditional pub with a food offering, a late bar and a boutique hotel.
Boston-based Grand Coast Capital is reported to be backing Jerry Conlan in the development of student accommodation at a site in Stoneybatter, close by DIT’s new Grangegorman campus.
The competition watchdog has been called in to review Kantar Media’s proposed acquisition of Newsaccess by the Public Relations Institute of Ireland. The two companies are the dominant players in print and broadcast media monitoring in Ireland.
Colette Sexton has a full-page report on Independent News and Media which covers the rise in profits over the last year, the protected disclosure by CEO Robert Pitt to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement concerning INM’s attempted takeover of Newstalk, the power struggle at the top, its pension issues and its cost-cutting plans. Denis O’Brien is the largest shareholder in INM and is also the owner of Newstalk through his company Communicorp. The Sunday Times reports that INM plans to contribute €50m to a replacement retirement savings plan for staff as part of a compromise deal to defuse a row over its decision to wind up its main pension schemes.
Former Sunday Independent editor Anne Harris has a piece on her experience with Robert Pitt titled: “Pitt knows how to put a price on values”.
The tidy up of RTE’s finances is covered by all the papers this morning. Colette Sexton has an interview with Dee Forbes, RTE’s director general, that covers her work to tidy up the state broadcaster’s finances.
The former staff of Clerys will share in a €1m fund which was put in trust for them by the new owners of the building.
Colette Sexton has a great interview with Tom O’Connor, the incoming CEO of Version 1, and also the man he will replace, Justin Keatinge. The Sunday Times reports that the shareholders of Version 1 are in advanced talks to sell a large majority stake to a UK private equity company in a deal that would value the company at close to €200m.Volpi capital, which is headed by Crevan O’Grady is purported to be the acquirer.
The Sunday Business Post is a sponsor of this year’s Entrepreneur Experience which links up 24 entrepreneurs with 24 business leaders over a 24-hour period. 12 of this year’s 24 entrepreneurs are profiled in today’s paper.
There are four pages dedicated to the late Martin McGuinness (1950-2017).
There are Focus pieces this week on the An Post Smart Marketing Awards 2017, Managed ICT Services, Diversity in the Workplace and Fintech.
Róisín Burke’s the week in business includes:
- Dermot Desmond will receive an honorary doctorate of Humanities from Michigan State University for his work as chair of disabilities charity Respect.
- A firm whose shareholders include Johnny Ronan and family, former civil servant Paddy Teahon and Richard Barrett, owns shares in a company which is now sitting on offshore wind farm assets with an estimated value of €3bn following the promise of energy minister Denis Naughton to introduce a price subsidy for offshore wind farms.
- Barry O’Callaghan’s Cliff at Lyons (formerly called Village at Lyons and which he bought for €6m for the family of Tony Ryan) reduced its losses last year from €7.4m to €2.8m. Obligations of c. €4.43m to Declan Ryan and the Ryan family were written off in the year.
- Word on the street is that a “very senior figure at RTE considered resigning over the way forward on cost-cutting.”
It's reported that Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan have personally briefed Facebook and Google on the possible implications of the EU ruling that Ireland had given "illegal tax benefits" worth €13bn to Apple since 1991.
Mercury Engineering, a Dublin-based engineering company led by chief executive Eoin Vaughan, is reported to be up for sale. The business, which has worked on some of Ireland's most high-profile projects, has annual revenues of c. €500m and employs 3,000 employees worldwide.
"The Government has told US lawmakers that Ireland has closed down a loophole on stateless entities and is "doing exactly what you want every country to do to avoid tax abuse"". The news comes after the Oregan Department of Revenue made a recommendation that Ireland be included as a tax haven last January.
In this week’s, paper Richard Curran discusses Theresa May's expected triggering of Article 50 this Wednesday. He puts forward five suggestions he thinks that the Irish Government should push for at the negotiations: (1) Preserve the Common Travel Area, (2) ensure people south of the border do not have to pay external increased fees to attend a university in the North, (3) ensure the all-island single electricity market is preserved, (4) negotiate an increase to the current €430 in personal travel allowances you can bring from outside the EU into the EU to prevent delays at the border and (5) ensure the EU doesn't block initiatives to support industries challenged by Brexit on the basis of competition or state aid rules.
Martin McAdam, former chief executive of Aquamarine Power and Airtricity's US operations, has launched a €20m fundraising round after having secured €550k in seed capital for a new firm, Ardgowan Distillery. McAdam's plan is to build a Scotch single-malt whisky distillery and visitor centre on a 600-year-old estate west of Glasgow. The business has recruited a number of "whisky industry heavyweights" to the venture and, according to McAdam, Scotch is a €5bn a year market.
Picard, the frozen food retailer with c. 920 shops across France and annual sales of €1.4bn, was bought by Lion Capital in 2010, which sold a 49% stake to Aryzta in 2015 for €446m in a deal that proved extremely unpopular with shareholders. Rothschild & Co, the financial advisory group, has won a mandate to carry out a strategic review on Aryzta’s options with its Picard's stake, including a possible sale or floatation.
Jim Staunton's start-up firm Medipro Life has invested €500k to fund the development of a new healthcare smart card that aims to revolutionise patient care. Staunton, the former hotelier which sold his boutique Dublin townhouse hotel Stauntons on the Green for €12m last year, has partnered with software experts Sonitek to provide the platform and phone app.
The Sunday Independent reports that Sean Mulryan's Ballymore Group is taking High Court action against CRH, its subsidiary Roadstone, Murphy Concrete Manufacturing and William Miley in relation to the alleged supply of pyrite-affected stone to high-end housing scheme it developed in Portmarnock. The scheme was developed in three phases between 2002 and 2007 and problems relating to the existence of Pyrite began to show in 2010.
The sale of 41 former garda stations in the past three years, as part of a nationwide consolidation plan, has netted The Office of Public Works c. €2.9m. The OPW is reported to be considering the sale of a second portfolio consisting of a further 47 former garda stations earmarked for closure and expects to net more than €4m from the sale due to rising property prices. Currently, there are c. 550 garda stations nationwide.
John McKeon, the co-founder of the now defunct Circle Oil and founder and chairman of Dublin-based Ardilaun Energy, is seeking to raise £3m, via a private placement, for an oil and gas explorer focused on offshore Ireland.
The new General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into effect in May 2018, means that all companies holding any personal data belonging to an EU citizen will be bound by "stringent procedures" when it comes to collecting, protecting and storing that data. The penalties for "very serious breaches" amount to the greater of €20m or 4% of total worldwide turnover.
This week's interview is with eShopWorld's Tommy Kelly.
James O'Connor, the President of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, has an article on how Ireland can't afford to take its ability for attracting American FDI for granted.
In this week’s paper, the Sunday Independent covers how Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan “wooed” tech giants Facebook and Google. The piece details how Noonan met Facebook executives, including CFO Dave Wehner, in San Francisco some months ago to discuss developments on the Apple tax case, “among other issues”. Similarly, Kenny met a delegation from Google last September, which included Carol Atkinson, the company’s global head of public policy, and Ronan Harris, former Google Ireland boss, to discuss the Government’s proposed approach to the EU Commission’s allegations.
There is a sponsored feature piece as part of Enterprise Ireland’s Global Ambition campaign on Tricel and how it is "Flourishing in France" in this week's paper. Tricel, a Killarney-based manufacturer of solutions for the water, environmental, construction and materials industries, is backed by Enterprise Ireland and opened an operation in France in 2011.
Cormac Lucey reiterates the link between Irish and US equities and reminds us that Irish equities are intrinsically linked to US equity returns.
Brian Carey this week:
- Carey reminds us that Bus Éireann provides a national service and doesn’t cherry-pick routes or drop unprofitable services.
- INM appears to be doing well in a difficult environment. Last year, newspaper and advertising of turnover at the company fell to below 50% of total sales, newspaper sales were down 4.6% and advertising revenue dropped by 9%.
- Carey mentions the departure of Richie Boucher from Bank of Ireland and reminds us that keeping the bank out of state control will be his crowning achievement.
Irish TV, the ill-fated diaspora broadcaster that went bust in December, is set to be resurrected and relaunched by the owners of the Irish Post in the UK. The owner, Elgin Loane bought the brand, on-line content and its video content out of liquidation.
Ryanair has claimed that Google abused its dominant market position by operating its Adwords ad service on terms that are “unfair and misleading to consumers”. The American company is facing a lengthy hearing into the case, which is due back in court on April 7th.
The €1bn lawsuit taken by the administrators of Quinn Insurance against accountancy firm PwC is not likely to start until 2020 -a decade after the collapse of the insurance company– and may run for a year.
Businesses will be offered postal discounts to encourage them to make greater use of Eircode, the struggling address system that was introduced in 2015 at a projected cost to the state of €38m.
Fuel retailer Topaz, which was acquired by Canadian group Alimentation Couche-Tard in 2015, has sold its home heating oil business to Capital Oil in the Republic of Ireland, while Derry-based Nicholl Fuel Oils has acquired its Northern Ireland fuels business.
RBC Capital Markets, a global investment bank, has reduced its price target for shares in Tullow Oil by more than 30% and said the company plans to raise €750m in a rights issue “appears premature”.
H&K International, the company that makes kitchens for McDonalds globally, has acquired a specialist lighting company, Lauk lighting, in the UK. The consideration was not disclosed.
Argento, the jeweller headed by Peter Boyle, posted mixed results for its two largest markets. Sales at Scottish operations surged from £11.6m to £24m and its profits rose £2.6m to £6.1m. Its Northern Ireland business posted a 15% fall in sales to £18.4m in the year to June, citing “ongoing difficult market conditions”.
Euro General Retail, a discount wholesaler and shop owner, returned to the black last year, posting profits of €730k compared with a loss of just over €1m the previous year.
Clavis Insight, a Dublin-based company that makes e-commerce analytics software, made a €6.1m loss in 2015 as it focused on expansion.
Nick Webb’s Inside Track:
- Gerry Murphy, the ex-Greencore boss turned private equity guru, is busy helping to rescue the troubled Jack Woldskin outdoor clothing company.
- Owen Sorensen has raised funding from members of the Butlers Chocolates family for PlanetVerify, which has an app to help business check their customers online.
- Fintan Byrne has been appointed chief executive of banking software company CR2.
The interview this week is with Citypost Ireland boss Ian Glass who promises to take on digital messaging and bring the postman back.
This week’s how I made it section is with John Keohane, Director of Verde Limited and LED lighting business. John’s story is one of entrepreneurship: on leaving college, John sought to own his own business and targeted the renewable sector; Verde is going from strength to strength under his leadership.
In other news
It was a pleasure during the week to speak at the business breakfast to announce the rebrand of McCarthy McSweeney in Cork as MC2 Accountants which was hosted by Brendan Moran of MC2 accountants. Jim McCarthy and Sean McSweeney have extensive experience and have a progressive team offering a full suite of advisory and accounting services across business and property. They recently put together the deal to buy the City Quarter in Cork for €14m on behalf of private investors.
@RenatusCapital tweets this week:
20.7% - The year-on-year increase in online UK retail sales for the month of February, according to the @ONS. @IndoBusiness
3.7% - The year-on-year increase in the quantity of UK retail sales for the month of February, according to the @ONS.@IndoBusiness
1.1% - The rise in wages in Ireland during the last three months of 2016, less than the average growth in EU wages of 1.8%. @EU_Eurostat
3.8% and 3.6% - The projected growth in Irish GDP for 2017 and 2018, respectively, according to @ESRIDublin. @IrishTimesBiz
1.2% - 2.2% - The average yearly projected growth in retail sales between 2017 and 2020, according to Retail Ireland. @IrishTimesBiz
18,500 - The projected number of housing completions this year, still below the 30,000 needed to meet demand, according to the @ESRIDublin.
€60 - €65 - The typical range of office rents, per square foot, in Dublin city centre, according to @JLLIreland. @IrishTimesBiz
2.3% - The annualised rise in inflation for the UK last month, the biggest increase in three-and-a-half years, according to @ONS.
1,244 - The number of house completions in January, a year-on-year increase of 35%, according to the latest figures from @HousingPress.
16% - The percentage of all domestic loans held by Irish banks that are classified as non-performing, according to @SPGlobal. @examinerbiz
c. 77.5k - The number of homes still in arrears for any length of time as of Dec '16, a decrease of 2.6% from Sep '16. @centralbank_ie
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