Morning business news - December 19Wednesday 19 December 2012 11.52
ENTERPRISE IRELAND NAMES NEW TECH START-UP AMBASSADOR FOR THE US - Enterprise Ireland has named George Moore as its technology Start-up Ambassador for the US. This is part of the agency's strategy to promote Ireland and to encourage overseas entrepreneurs to locate their start-up businesses in Ireland.
Mr Moore says the role of the Ambassador is like a matchmaker service, talking to young companies who have the potential to spend money and create jobs here. He says that Ireland is currently very attractive for start-ups and the Entrepreneur Visa programme has made it even more attractive. He points out that no-one ever started a large company and the likes of HP, Intel and Microsoft were all start-ups and all began as an idea with smart people, experienced advisors, luck and access to capital.
GOVERNMENT DEALS A BLOW TO RYANAIR'S BID FOR RIVAL - The Government yesterday said it would not support Ryanair's bid for Aer Lingus because of concerns it would undermine Ireland's competitiveness and reduce the number of flights in and out of the country. But Ryanair, which already owns nearly 30% of the airline, said the Government has no power to block its offer, which can still be successfully completed it acquires a shareholding of 50% or more.
Gerard Moore, equity analysts of Merrion Stockbrokers, says the Government's decision was clearly a big blow for Ryanair's effort to take over its rival Aer Lingus. But he says the offer is not completely dead and Ryanair still has an opportunity to increase its stake in Aer Lingus to as high as 75%. He admits this would be very difficult as there is not a lot of buying and selling of Aer Lingus shares, but he believes that if shareholders were offered the right price they may be prepared to sell.
On whether the Government's statement will influence the European decision, Mr Moore says that the EU will in theory make up its own mind, but the decision by Leo Varadkar will in practice have some sway on the EU decision. He also says that the issue of Aer Lingus' Heathrow slots is another thorn in the side of the Ryanair bid, pointing out that the Transport Minister can block the disposal of these very valuable slots. He also says the Government decision will not really affect the two airlines' share prices as the market already considered any deal as very unlikely.
*** Bank of Ireland is being accused of cashing in at the worst time of the year as it increases credit card interest rates by 4% just a few days before Christmas. Rates on Bank of Ireland credit cards - which it said had not gone up since August 2011 - were put up yesterday by between 0.7 and 4%, with rates now as high as 19.9% on the bank's ''Classic'' card. The Consumers' Association said that the bank had made a determined calculation to take advantage of people and that it will make a significant amount of money.
*** Standard & Poor's ratings agency last night upgraded Greece's credit grade by 6 notches, pulling the debt-heavy country out of default but still keeping its devalued bonds in junk status. The agency said the upgrade to B- - the highest grade it has given Greece since June 2011 - reflected its view that the other 16 European Union countries using the euro are determined to keep Greece inside the currency union.