The Best of the Weekend Business Papers 7 March 2021

April 9


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·   The Business Post reports that three senior executives at stockbroker at Davy have resigned
·   The Sunday Independent says Davy is facing further investigations into its business dealings
·   The Sunday Times says Bank of Ireland wants an exemption from the ban on bankers’ bonuses
·   The Financial Times reports that Brexit has caused a steep fall in UK-Europe trade
·   The Wall Street Journal reports that the US economy is set for a strong spring recovery
“Don’t be such a chicken squat – get out there and get your shot!”
— Country music star Dolly Parton’s message for the world as she gets vaccinated.
“Heads roll at Davy in wake of scandal over double-dealing,” is the cover splash on this week’s Business Post. The story – which is widely covered across this week’s broadsheets – comes after Ireland’s biggest stockbroker was hit with a record €4.1m find relating to a crooked bond deal in 2014 which Davy employees profited from. Following the revelations, Davy’s CEO Brian McKiernan, non-executive director Kyran McLaughlin and Head of Bonds Barry Nangle tendered their resignations. And the paper also notes that the individuals involved in the deal could still face further action.
On the inside pages, there are a plethora of comment and analysis pieces covering the scandal. Ian Guider writes that the “venerable Dawson Street stockbroker” has been rocked “like no other event” in its almost 100-year history. Meanwhile, Niamh Brennan, UCD’s professor of management, writes that restoring Davy’s reputation will take more than “wishy-washy statements” although she does say that the three resignations by senior management are a “first step in the right direction.” Meanwhile, Matt Copper writes that “many big questions remain unanswered” for Davy and questions if the Irish state can continue to deal with the company.
Turning to other stories, and on-page four Aaron Rogan profiles Dublin-based gambling giant Flutter which owns Paddy Power and Betfair. Flutter released its results last week and reported a 104% increase in sales to £4.4bn following its merger with Canadian Firm the Stars Group. According to CEO, Peter Jackson, the company is in pole position in the US. “Let’s be really clear. We are number one in America,” he said.
As Ireland’s seemingly interminable lockdown continues, Michael Brennan talks to frustrated executives of Ireland’s construction companies about the current paralysis. For his report, Brennan spoke to Tommy Drumm, managing director of Collen Construction, Eugene O’Shea managing director of Walls Construction, Stephen McCarthy, owner of Astra Construction and John O’Shaughnessy, managing director of Clancy construction. “We’re frustrated because we don’t see any line of sight to be able to tell people: ‘This is when you’re going to be able to go back to work,’” said Drumm.
In brief
·   CityLink has bid for GoBus, which operates bus services between Dublin, Galway and Cork
·   Spanish hedge fund Azvalor has spent €7m increasing its stake in Tullow Oil from 6% to 7%
·   Revenue at Hairy Baby, the novelty t-shirt company, rose from €900,000 to €1.2m
The Sunday Business Post is a digital subscription. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe or buy the physical newspaper. Subscribe here >
Like the Business Post, the Sunday Independent leads with the scandal at Davy but says a new investigation into the stockbroker’s business dealings could be looming. Saying that the future of the firm is “on the line” the paper says that the Director of Corporate Enforcement is to examine the report by the Central Bank adding that the gardai may eventually have a role in investigating Davy.
Turning to the business pages and the top story is that two Irish directors of Cork-based Dolphin International Group were given loans by the company of €1.8m each before it was wound up in 2019. Ferghal O’Connor writes that the Cork firm was a key part of the Dolphin Capital property investment scheme that collapsed leaving 1,800 Irish investors out of pocket. It is not known if the directors – Marc Reilly and Stephen O’Reilly – have repaid the loans.
Also on the front of the business pages, it’s reported that Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), the preppy US fashion retailer, is closing its Grafton St store for good. Sean Pollack reports that despite the decision, A&F “remains committed” to Dublin and said it was looking for locations that “better align” with where its customer’s shop.
In brief
·   UDC Ireland which makes light-emitting diodes may create up to 100 jobs at its Clare plant
·   Whoop, a Boston-based sports wearable company, plans to open an office in Dublin
·   Optimism among Irish businesses for the rest of 2021 is at its lowest since 2015, says BDO
The Sunday Independent is a digital subscription. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe or buy the physical newspaper. Subscribe here >
“BOI: we repaid state, so end bonus cap,” is the headline over the top story in the Sunday Times’ business section. Niall Brady reports that Bank of Ireland chairman Patrick Kennedy wants the lender to be excused from the government’s ban on bankers’ bonuses because, unlike rivals AIB and PTSB, it has repaid all of the €4.8bn bailout it received from the taxpayer during the banking crisis. “Having repaid the taxpayer in full, Bank of Ireland’s view is that it should now be permitted to develop a more normalised remuneration approach,” said Kennedy.
Hundreds of Deliveroo riders are in line to share in an €18.5m “thank you fund” writes Conor McMahon. The fund is being set up as the company prepares to float on the London Stock Exchange. According to the story, payments of £10,000, £1,000, £500 and £200 will be offered to riders based on the number of orders they have completed.
AIB could find itself on the hook for up to €4bn if airlines, hotels and other businesses disrupted by the pandemic refuse to refund customers who paid in advance. The liability could arise due to “chargebacks” on Visa and Mastercard purchases where cardholders can claim a refund for purchases when a business refuses to issue a refund for goods and services that fail to arrive.
In brief
·   Online customer engagement software firm Boxever was sold for $156m to US rival Sitecore
The Sunday Times is a digital subscription. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe or buy the physical newspaper. Subscribe here >
The FT is a digital subscription. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe or buy the physical newspaper. Subscribe here > 
“February hiring sets up stronger spring recovery,” is the top headline on the cover of this week’s WSJ. The paper reports that a surge in hiring at restaurants and other hospitality businesses during February means that the US economy is poised to bounce back strongly as it emerges from a pandemic-hit winter.
Turning to tech, and Microsoft’s Outlook email software has fallen foul of a cyberattack that is believed to have infected tens of thousands of businesses, government offices and schools in the US. Microsoft laid the blame for the attack at a Chinese cyberespionage group dubbed “Hafnium.”
Finally, in a sign of what we may soon see in Ireland, employers in Israel are offering an “assortment of perks” to staff who get the coronavirus jab. Vaccinated employees at Check Point Software are being offered access to the official salon, gym as well as on-site pedicure and manicure rooms. Meanwhile, workers at SodaStream are being offered a 300-shekel ($90) voucher and a T-shirt for getting the jab. However, the story notes that no matter how amenable employees are to receiving the shot, “complicated encounters” over their vaccination status are likely to endure.
The WSJ is a digital subscription. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe or buy the physical newspaper. Subscribe here > 
All views are strictly my own brief interpretation of the articles in the various publications and not intended to be comprehensive. Please feel free to forward to friends or colleagues and get in touch if you wish to add contacts to the mailing list.
Have a good week & stay safe. 
Shay Dalton 
Managing Director – Lincoln Recruitment Specialists 
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M: 086-8562176
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