RYANAIR PROPOSES €100m FLYBE DEAL - Ryanair has offered to give British airline Flybe €100 million in cash to help establish an operation in Ireland that could take over 43 routes from Aer Lingus as it seeks to gain approval from the European Commission to acquire its Irish rival. The routes in question are expected to generate a profit of €20 million for Flybe, according to Ryanair’s submission, writes the Irish Times. Ryanair has also withdrawn a proposal that British Airways would take over Aer Lingus’s Heathrow slots. Instead, BA has agreed to take over Ryanair and Aer Lingus Gatwick slots for flights to Dublin, Cork and Shannon.This is an important change to the remedies package submitted to the commission. At present, the Government, which owns 25.11% of Aer Lingus, could veto a transfer of the Heathrow slots to British Airways if it were to gain the support of another 5% of shareholders in the former state-owned airline.
GREENCORE TO GIVE ISE A SHOT IN THE AIRM WITH RE-LIST PLAN - Greencore is likely to rejoin the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE), in a move which would be a huge boost to the embattled market. The readymeal-maker quit the Dublin market a year ago so that it could seek a full listing in the London market. At the time of its delisting, the company said it hoped to get a secondary listing here at some point but refused to put a timeframe on when it could happen. Now, however, it seems the company will look for a secondary listing on the ISEQ Index sooner rather than later, says the Irish Independent. While Greencore management have not yet formally decided on whether to seek a new listing, there is believed to be strong support to do so. Despite making almost all its money outside Ireland, being listed in London and reporting its results in sterling, the former Irish Sugar company retains many investors on the island. Former suppliers to Greencore's sugar business in particular have a strong interest. On the institutionals side, Irish Life Investment Managers holds around 1.5% of the company, while Allied Irish Banks and Goodbody Stockbrokers also have significant holdings. The news that Greencore is likely to return to Dublin is a shot in the arm for the Anglesea Street exchange, which has been hit by several companies either going under or switching their main listing away from the stock market here.
ECB TOLD TO DOUBLE ITS MANPOWER - The European Central Bank will need to more than double its manpower and hire around 2,000 bank supervision staff to put the eurozone’s banking union into practice, according to a confidential study for the ECB. The Financial Times says that the consultancy report, commissioned by Mario Draghi and the ECB executive board and submitted last month, recommends a rapid build-up so Frankfurt has the resources and clout to fulfil properly its supervision role and protect its reputation. EU leaders have set their sights on banking union as a way of tackling one of the structural flaws that helped to spark the eurozone crisis. The need to restore market confidence in the single currency gained renewed urgency on Monday when a months-long rally came to an abrupt halt. Investors pulled back amid a political storm in Madrid and as Silvio Berlusconi staged an electoral fightback. The report by Promontory Financial Group, according to two people who have seen it, offers a stark insight into the colossal scale of the undertaking for the ECB when it assumes its new powers in early 2014. A person close to the ECB noted the findings were not binding. Several recommendations in the blueprint, if adopted, would bolster Frankfurt’s sway over existing national supervisors. This is a highly sensitive issue given the risk of a power struggle erupting when the ECB takes over as the bloc’s top bank watchdog.
DUNNES 4.6% SALES GROWTH ‘STRONGEST FOR FOUR YEARS’ - Dunnes Stores continues to increase its share of the Irish grocery market as the largest player in the market, Tesco, saw its sales dip, according to the latest supermarket share data from Kantar Worldpanel. Grocery inflation stands at 5.2% for the 12-week period ending Jan 20, compared to 5% in the previous period. It is the highest figure since 5.6% in May 2011, and is well ahead of the Consumer Price Index, which was up 1.2% in December. The Irish Examiner says that the Kantar figures show Dunnes’s improving fortunes in recent months accelerating into the new year on the back of sales growth of 4.6%. Commercial director at Kantar Worldpanel, David Berry, said Dunnes’s 4.6% sales growth is its strongest performance for four years and highlights the success of its “shop and save” campaign in the run-up to Christmas. “Shoppers have responded well to this offer, picking up more items every time they shop and increasing the average size of their baskets by almost €3 to €36.70 - an increase of 9%,” said Mr Barry. “This has opened a considerable gap between Dunnes and its competition, with the average Tesco and SuperValu shop standing at €30.40 and €22.40 respectively.”