Morning business news - July 12

Friday 12 July 2013 10.29
Morning business news with Conor Brophy
Morning business news with Conor Brophy

S&P REVISES ITS IRISH OUTLOOK UPWARDS - Standard and Poor's, the ratings agency, has changed its outlook on Irish Government debt from stable to positive. It is the second time since February that S&P has improved its outlook for the country.

Philip O'Sullivan, chief economist at Investec Ireland, says that the latest revision from Standard and Poor's shows that Ireland is moving further away from the rest of the euro zone periphery, especially given the fact that Italian debt was downgraded earlier this week. The economist says the move will be seen as a positive development and will bring bond yields lower. Pointing out that Moody's is the only rating agency which has Ireland at non- investment grade, he says an upgrade is now expected from them.

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SLANE CASTLE WHISKEY EYES 2018 RELEASE - The Mount Charles family, of Slane Castle fame, has secured planning permission for a whiskey distillery. The project, which will see an investment of €12m, will involve both the distillery and a visitor centre in Slane. 25 full time jobs will also be created.

Alex Mount Charles, the managing director of the new venture, says that Irish whiskey is facing into a very bright future. He says that while distilling is still a small industry here, it has great potential and points to the high number of distilleries in Scotland compared to Ireland. Mr Mount Charles says there is a long lead-in to the distillery's first release - expected in 2018. The new venture is targeting the niche, super premium and ultra premium markets and will offer triple distilled single malt and pure pot still. He says the US continues to be a strong market, while the company will also target the Asian and BRIC markets, which offer it huge potential.

Slane Castle Whiskey will use barley grown on the estate, while the distillery will become the first Irish distillery to carry out malting onsite. Mr Mount Charles says that new entrants to the market is good for Irish whiskey as a whole, pointing out that consumers want more choice.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Drug company Glaxo Smithkline has been accused of bribery by Chinese officials. China's minister of public security said the British pharmaceutical company's employees in three cities, Shanghai, Changsha and Zhengzhou had confessed to bribing officials and paying kickbacks to doctors in an effort to boost drug sales. GSK is also involved in a price fixing investigation recently opened by China's competition regulator.

*** Shares in ABF, the company which owns fashion retailer Primark, closed up 4% yesterday after a strong set of results from the discount clothing chain. Primark, or Penney's as we know it here, delivered a 20% increase in sales over the four months to the end of June.

*** Microsoft has announced a management shake-up and is re-organising the way it does business to more successfully compete with rivals such as Google and Apple. The old divisional structure at the software company is being broken down. Microsoft engineers, for example, will now work across different products such as its mobile phone operating system, its Xbox gaming consoles and its core PC software business. Previously they were separated into divisions. Critics of the company have pointed to what has been seen as a less collaborative culture as one of the reasons Microsoft has so far failed to replicate the success of Windows as an operating system for PCs on smartphone and tablet devices.