Selling Aer Lingus to Willie Walsh is not just about money

Posted on by David Murphy

Willie Walsh may yet call the shots at Aer Lingus, having stepped down as CEO in 2005

Willie Walsh may yet call the shots at Aer Lingus, having stepped down as CEO in 2005

By Business Editor David Murphy

Comment via Twitter

Slowly the tide is coming in – Aer Lingus seems destined to be taken over by British Airways’ parent group International Airlines Group (IAG).

It has made two offers for the Irish airline and a third seems imminent.

But what would a takeover mean for travellers to and from Ireland? And will it be a beneficial development? Continue reading

Will the Windows 10 effect be enough to revitalise Microsoft?

Posted on by Will Goodbody

HoloLens provided the wow factor at the Windows 10 pre-launch

HoloLens provided the wow factor at the Windows 10 pre-launch

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

Such was its excitement about unveiling Windows 10, it took Microsoft more than two whole hours to tell us all about it on Wednesday night. That’s a very long time to show off what essentially is one, unfinished product. But then, Microsoft has a lot riding on its new operating system.

When most people think Microsoft, they think Windows. It’s been a fundamental part of the company’s family of products and services for the best part of three decades. It’s the operating system most people used when they first learned to use a PC. It’s at the centre of Microsoft’s software ecosystem, and is the platform upon which many of the company’s other services run.

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Is an increase in science funding on the way?

Posted on by Will Goodbody

The Minister for Research says science funding needs to reach 2% of GDP

The Minister for Research says science funding here needs to reach 2% of GDP

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

In the media game, the end of one year and the start of another is often characterised by organisations holding briefings where they look back at their achievements during the twelve months past or look ahead to their targets for the coming year. Often they are not very interesting gatherings – characterised by the organisation slapping its own back and listing a series of woolly aspirations for the year ahead which nobody is terribly interested in.

This morning, Science Foundation Ireland held such an event – its 2015 annual plan launch. But this one proved quite revealing on a number of counts.

First, it seems that Science Foundation Ireland as the main science funding body in the country, and Professor Mark Ferguson as its boss (and Chief Scientific Advisor to the government), are gearing up for a push for more funding for science here.

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Brian Cowen has even more banking questions to answer

Posted on by David Murphy

Brian Lenihan was overruled in his call for the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide

Brian Lenihan was overruled in his call for the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide

By David Murphy, Business Editor

Comment via twitter to @davidmurphyRTE

Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan’s lively and candid testimony to the Banking Inquiry has increased the pressure on Brian Cowen to give a full account of the night of the bank guarantee.

Mr Honohan said former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan had told him that he (Lenihan) argued for Anglo and Irish Nationwide to be nationalised on September 29, 2008.

The then minister also said he expressed the opinion that junior bondholders should have been excluded from the guarantee.

According to Mr Honohan, Mr Lenihan was overruled on both fronts. Continue reading

Astute consumers benefit from lower oil prices

Posted on by David Murphy

oilrig

The price of oil dipped below $50 a barrel this week

By David Murphy, Business Editor

This week the price of oil dipped below $50 a barrel. Many observers don’t believe the commodity will remain at this level for a long period.

It has been a dramatic collapse – prices peaked at $115 a barrel last June. It is worth considering how much of these lower prices are being passed on to consumers.

Taxes paid at the pumps by Irish motorists increased five times since the economic collapse. But the cost savings from lower petrol or diesel amounts to €230 annually for the average family – assuming mileage of 15,000 km per annum.

However, there are huge variations in prices between stations – sometimes by more than 15 cent per litre.

If consumers are using home heating oil, the average price drop is €400 (on the basis that they fill their tank twice a year with 1,000 litres on each occasion).

But most consumers of electricity and natural gas are not immediately enjoying savings.

The majority are paying a standard non-discounted price. With the exception of a 2% price cut from Electric Ireland, most energy companies have not reduced their standard prices.

However, there are significant discounts of up to 20% available for those who switch suppliers. This is because there are large reductions on offer for new customers.

David Kerr, founder of price comparison website Bonkers.ie, says a home using natural gas and electricity could benefit by more than €300 in total annually by changing suppliers.

So consumers who remain with their existing providers or don’t harangue their energy companies to get a better deal are giving suppliers fatter profits.

It is the astute consumers who will benefit from lower oil. That’s before prices rise again.

IMF staff like the Central Bank’s mortgage plans

Posted on by Sean Whelan

IMF staff have looked at the impact of - and responses to - various property crashes

IMF staff have looked at the impact of – and responses to – various property crashes

By Sean Whelan, Economics Correspondent

Staff at the International Monetary Fund have voiced support for the Central Bank’s plans to cap loan-to-value and loan-to-income levels for new mortgages.

It has also commended its flexible approach to the limits.

But it says such “macroprudential” tightening will act as a constraint on growth, and so should be introduced gradually and adjusted to the pace of economic recovery. Continue reading

Central Bank sells €0.5 billion of IBRC bonds – to the NTMA

Posted on by Sean Whelan

anglo2

IBRC bonds replaced promissory notes used to fund the losses of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide

The Central Bank has sold half a billion euro worth of IBRC bonds – the debt instrument that replaced the promissory notes used to fund the losses of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide building Society.

The bonds were bought by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) – the very organisation that issued them to the Central Bank in the first place.

Effectively the taxpayer has paid off half a billion of the €25 billion in debt that was left over when IBRC was liquidated last year.

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Questions & Answers on the Banking Inquiry

Posted on by David Murphy

The Banking Inquiry has been a long time in the making, but has a tight timetable to deliver its report

The Banking Inquiry has been a long time in the making, but has a tight timetable to deliver its report

By Business Editor David Murphy

Why is the Bank Inquiry important?
The banking crisis cost a gross €64bn, wrecked Ireland’s reputation and set back the lives of thousands of people who suffered the loss of employment and higher taxes.

Four major reports were carried out as to why the collapse happened. Those studies were to be followed up by a statutory inquiry. Now, six years after the bank guarantee, it is finally beginning.

What did the reports say?
Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan’s report examined the failure of regulation which contributed to the collapse. It concluded regulators weren’t sufficiently challenging of banks.

Continue reading

2014′s highs and lows in Science & Tech

Posted on by Will Goodbody

The Rosetta story had it all

The Rosetta story had it all

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

It’s awards season. That time of the year, when organisations everywhere reflect on the 12 months past, and acknowledge the achievements of their members and others. So not to be out done, the RTÉ News Science & Tech department (numbering one) has decided to hold an awards ceremony all of its own. We think it is only fitting to recognise the contributions, the highs and the lows of the tech and scientific community here and internationally. In keeping with the brief, the awards, prizes and even the ceremony itself will be entirely virtual. So here goes…

BEST STORY– ROSETTA/PHILAE:
This was the story that had it all. It began with a long (10 years), protracted build-up, full of tension and excitement. Then came the waking-up event in January, when the comet chasing probe awoke from a two year slumber. August saw Rosetta’s emotional rendezvous with the dirty lump of snow and ice, Comet 67P, which it had chased for billions of kilometres around the solar system. And finally in November, the dramatic dropping of the Philae lander onto its surface. As science stories go, it was extraordinary, particularly when one considers the mission was dreamt up, designed and built over a decade ago. It has also yielded loads of interesting science, and will continue to into 2015. It’s the story that keeps on giving.

Continue reading

Realities of regulation causing unease

Posted on by David Murphy

Many blamed Ireland's property crash on poor regulation - but the prospect of tighter rules is still meeting resistance

Many blamed Ireland’s property crash on poor regulation – but the prospect of tighter rules is still meeting resistance

David Murphy, Business Editor

During the crash critics rightly complained that poor financial regulation had allowed the banks run wild, pitching the financial system into the abyss.

The new regime at the Central Bank, led by Governor Patrick Honohan, has endeavoured to re-establish independent regulation.

But for some the prospect of rules made by an autonomous regulator are proving difficult to stomach. Continue reading

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