Synopsis of Sunday business pages

Sunday Business Post The Business Post has a digital subscription which is great value and can be accessed here. For €200 a year (54c a day) you get well over 100k words every Sunday as well as excellent coverage on other days. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe here or buy the physical newspaper. There is good coverage in the paper regarding the agreement at “phase 1” of the Brexit negotiations, including a full-page report by Stephen Kinsella. Pepper Ireland, the debt servicing business, has failed in its attempt to offset future profits against losses accumulated by a business it acquired. Pepper acquired the mortgage book of GE Ireland in 2012 for €600m, which is reported to be c. 40% of the loans’ original value. As a result of the ruling, Pepper will now have to pay taxes to the Revenue Commissioners on profits which it had previously set off against the losses. The tax paid by multinationals is in the news again. TD Katherine Zappone is calling for a minimum effective tax to be levied on multinationals. Mars Capital, an investment firm which has been a major acquirer of Irish bank loans, has completed a more than €500m refinancing of its mortgage portfolio. The investment company securitised the portfolio in the form of a bond secured by the mortgages, 83% of which are reported to “non-performing”. Medical devices company DePuy International has had to make millions or euro worth of settlements with almost 500 Irish patients who had been fitted with alleged defective hip implants. DuPuy’s products were recalled in 2010 and 1,092 proceedings have been initiated against them in Ireland. Cork-based biomass energy firm Eqtec is proposing to complete a €14m reverse takeover by Eqtec Iberia, a subsidiary of its main shareholder Ebioss - a Spanish energy giant. The deal would result in several of Eqtec Iberia’s international assets being moved into the Irish-based company. Eqtec was founded in 2008 with backing from Farmers Business Development. Tom Lyons has a full-page report on the unfortunate failure of the $11m property investment scheme that 800 Irish investors had put money into, including financial advisor and TV personality Eddie Hobbs. Jack Horgan-Jones has a special report on Apple’s investment into Ireland and the relationship between the world’s biggest company and the State. The parent company for used motor website Car Buyers Guide, Digital Motor Limited, is to wind up after poor trading results and substantial trading losses. The company's directors have informed its 22 staff. The court hearing regarding the examinership of Galway developer Gerry Barrett’s businesses which are currently in examinership resumes next week. Despite initiating the examinership process, Barrett is reported to be opposing the proposed rescue plan which would see Alanis Capital, backed by Deutsche Bank, acquire the business for €89m. The companies involved have debts outstanding of c. €700m owing to Deutsche Bank. Consultancy giant Accenture has acquired Irish creative marketing agency Rothco. The deal value is not reported. Rothco was founded by Patrick Hickey, Paul Hughes and Patrick Ronaldson in 1995 and has run campaigns for AIB, Orchard Thieves, Rory McIlroy, Heineken and the Defence Forces. Sligo entrepreneur David McGowan has received planning permission for a “transport-themed accommodation park” in Sligo. The total cost of the project is estimated by McGowan at €5.5m, with €1.5m already invested. Taxi app Lynk is to invest €2m to expand and upgrade its fleet of cars in Dublin. UK equipment rental giant Loxam has acquired Dublin’s largest construction equipment rental business Swan Plant Hire. The terms of the deal are not reported. Grant Thornton advised on the deal. A newly established wealth management business, Kestrel Capital, led by industry heavy-hitters John Crowe, Kenny Hope, Danny McGinley and Camilla McLean has successfully reached €200m in assets under management in its first 18 months. The business intends to increase this to €500m in 2018. Barry J White has a report on Arytza following its AGM in Dublin last week. Colette Sexton has a full-page report on the history of the Crosbie family’s ownership of Landmark Media (prior owner of the Irish Examiner, among other titles) and the lead up to its recent financial troubles and recent sale to the Irish Times. Jack Horgan-Jones interviews Grant Thornton’s incoming managing partner Michael McAteer in the week’s Sunday Interview. The paper has focus pieces on the GDPR Summit and Published Accounts Awards 2017. There is a profile piece on Bitcoin in the Post Plus supplement. Ian Hyland has a wide-ranging interview with former Unilever chairman and CEO Niall Fitzgerald. Sunday Independent The Independent Group makes its digital revenue through advertising. Business stories today and daily can be found through the below link. We encourage you to support quality journalism and click below or buy the physical newspaper. Xavier McAuliffe of Lyrath Estate Hotel is planning to develop a 150-home retirement village on the 170-acre grounds of the Kilkenny estate. The news comes after McAuliffe’s successful bid to buy the hotel back from receivers appointed by Bank of Scotland in 2012 and the €5m refurbishment plan which followed. There is a full-page interview with McAuliffe in this weekend’s Sunday Independent. The Sunday Independent also has a full-page piece on property developer Michael O’Flynn. O’Flynn indicates that strict Central Bank mortgage lending limits are exacerbating housing and rental prices in Ireland and the Government should introduce fast-track rezoning to ease the unsustainable prices being paid for development land. Irish early-2018 IPO prospect T5 Oil & Gas has invested in a Gabon-based asset. The exploration group, formed by five former Tullow Oil executives, is finalising a $4.5m (€3.8m) fundraising ahead of a planned flotation on the junior markets in Dublin and London early next year. The deal strengthens the company’s portfolio in the lead-up to its stock market floatation. Richard Curran’s piece this week reflects on the improvements in the job market since the financial crash. CSO figures released earlier this week reveal “there are now around 212,000 more people working in the economy than there were five years ago”. Curran also discusses the ongoing tracker mortgage scandal and the mounting pressure on Ireland’s corporate tax rate following criticism from the US and Germany over the past two weeks. Belfast-headquartered SHS Group, a consumer goods distributor with a portfolio that includes Colgate, Twinings, Shloer and WKD, saw turnover rise 23% to £468m (€533m) and profits before tax increase to almost £25m (€28m) last year. A €70m loan agreement between Fingal County Council and the European Investment Bank (EIB) provides a green light for a €180m strategic infrastructure investment plan around Dublin Airport which will ease road traffic issues in the area. Irish-run aircraft lessor Avolon “downplayed” parent company HNA Group’s influence over its financial situation at a recent conference according to a Goldman Sachs note. The news comes as Avolon seeks to distance itself from debt-laden HNA Group. Northern-Irish energy provider Viridian is said to be in discussions with CRH to acquire a 2.38-hectare site near Dublin. Viridian intends to construct a bioenergy plant on the site which will “generate up to 3.8 megawatts of electricity” per year. Decawave, an Irish semiconductor startup, has been earmarked for success at the prestigious Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) Awards. Decawave technology will allow objects to be tracked within accuracy of seven centimeters using low-powered chips. This week’s Brexit briefing reveals calls from senior UK business figures for more clarity around trade agreement terms with the EU as further news of staff relocations emerge from RBS and Lloyd’s. SCFI, an Irish wastewater treatment firm backed by Key Capital and Gilbert Little, has invested €2m to drive export sales. The company, led by chief executive John O’Regan is currently working on six long-term projects around the world with a collective value of up to €85m. Alan O’Neill has an interesting piece on scaling-up SMEs in this weekend’s Sunday Independent. O’Neill offers tips on leadership, structure and change, using Sensational Kids as an example company. Sensational Kids, a Kildare-based startup founded by Karen Leigh in 2007, aims to support children with special educational needs. O’Neill’s time as chairman for Sensational Kids provides insight into the company’s achievements to date, as well as the challenges that lie ahead. Sean Gallagher’s piece this week features Pure Telecom. The telecoms business was founded in 2002 by Paul Connell and Alan McGonnell, it recorded revenues of €20m last year and today it employs 100 people (directly and indirectly). Sunday Times For €260 per annum (71c/day) you can get the Times Digital edition which has all the detail behind the below stories and a brilliant daily edition. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe here or buy the physical newspaper. French telecom entrepreneur Xavier Niel’s NJJ Capital is close to finalising a deal to buy a majority stake in Eir, Ireland’s biggest broadband and telephone provider. The deal is expected to value the former state telecom company in the region of €1.5bn and is to close before the end of the year. Among other topics this week, Brian Carey’s Agenda covers Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary, who has reportedly told staff Ryanair will not negotiate with trade unions amidst potential strike action from pilots based in Italy, Portugal and Germany. The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa) is also balloting its members who work in Ryanair. Carey also reports that in order to facilitate the sale of the Irish Examiner and other regional titles to the Irish Times, it is "rumoured" that AIB will write off between €11m and €12m in debt owed to the bank. AIB was owed €17m according to the parent company’s (Landmark Media) most recent accounts. It will also mean the Irish Times retains the print contract for the paper. The value of the deal is not reported. A number of Irish investors, including chief executive John O’Dea and serial entrepreneur John O’Shaughnessy, will benefit from the sale of Crospon which has been acquired by Medtronic, a deal which could be worth up to €38m. Crospon develops tools to diagnose, measure and, in some cases, treat gastrointestinal disorders. Gillian Maxwell and Niall Stringer who brought the Flying Tiger retail chain to Ireland have sold their 50% stake in the venture to the group’s parent, and are moving to New York to establish its business there. Cormac Lucey has good news this week. Life expectancy at birth in Ireland was 81.5 years in 2015, up from 76.6 years in 2000. We have gone from below the EU average to above it in 15 years. The Friends First brand, which goes back to 1834, is set to be dropped after being acquired by Aviva. Fusion Antibodies, a Queen’s University spin-out, plans to list on AIM in a £18.5m listing. David Raethorne plans to raise €15m for the Lough Gill whiskey distillery, which is located on the Hazelwood Estate in Sligo. The Titanic tourist centre in Belfast made an operating profit of £2m last year as visitor numbers continue to rise. Lifes2Good, a health products developer run by Galway entrepreneur James Murphy, has sold its interest in electric toothbrush Smartbrush for €4.55m. Bain Capital is backing one of Dublin’s largest aparthotel developments. A company related to the US fund has submitted a planning application to build a 343-room aparthotel just off Capel Street. Staycity, an Irish short-stay accommodation company, has been signed up to operate the project. Mining veteran David Hall has revealed plans to list zinc explorer Erris Resources on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) before the end of the year. Erris has six licences to explore at Abbeytown in Co Sligo, the site of a lead mine in the 1950s. Its main focus is potential zinc deposits, though it will also prospect for silver and copper. Rascals Brewing is planning to raise €1.4m from investors under the EIIS scheme, the company has outgrown its facilities in Rathcoole and moved to a larger site in Inchicore. The business was set up by Emma Devlin and Cathal O’Donoghue in 2014. Michael Herbert’s Danner Bell, the Belfast-based parent company behind KFC franchises across Ireland and the UK, recorded pre-tax profits of £4.3m for 2016. The group also holds property assets of £69.9m on its balance sheet. Losses at insurance company RSA were €46m in 2016, a reduction on €9m in the previous year. Irish Residential Properties (Ires) REIT plans to build 61 apartments on the North Circular Road. Nick Webb’s Inside track: - Former Google boss John Herlihy and Syncreon founder Brian Enright’s investment vehicle Wychwood have emerged as backers of Starverse Media, a celebrity-focused social network project set up by Birol Nadir. - Pharma entrepreneurs Tom Brennan and Patsy Carney are working on a new pharma-related business, having teamed up with Louise Grubb and her Q1 Scientific, which has developed a hi-tech storage facility in Waterford geared for the pharma and biotech sector. - Pat Doran who sold American Packaging to Spanish company Saica bought a house on Shrewsbury Road for €8.45m earlier this year. Niall Brady’s feature piece this week discusses the new European Mifid II directive, whereby if clients want independent financial advice from financial advisers they will have to pay for it directly to adviser as opposed to the adviser getting remunerated by commission from the supplier of the service in the same way as they pay for accountancy, legal and other professionals. Gavin Daly’s interview this week is with UDG’s chief executive Brendan McAtamney. Sandra O’Connell has a good piece on invoice financing.

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