CENTRAL BANK IN SECOND IT OUTAGE - For the second time since outsourcing its IT infrastructure to Hewlett-Packard, the Central Bank has suffered an outage when one of its servers crashed, reports the Irish Examiner. In response to a parliamentary question, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the bank suffered an outage in mid-September. “The incident to which the deputy refers occurred on 17th September when one of the servers which had recently been migrated to the HP data centres became unavailable for a short period,” Mr Noonan said. “The incident in question was the result of a process failure which has since been identified and rectified as part of the standard transition arrangements. The incident lasted for 15 minutes. The impact was minor and did not impact any business service of the Central Bank,” he said. It is understood that the outage was only uncovered by Central Bank officials who were supporting HP staff to migrate the bank over to the HP servers. This is the second systems outage since the Central Bank outsourced its IT systems. The first came on June 21 when a power outage at HP brought the system down temporarily. One internal whistleblower has written to a TD claiming that “IT system has been unstable since being moved, (separate to the process failures), for weeks now, yet they continue to move more and more systems out while the instability continues”. The new outsourced system handles a huge amount of Irish banking data that is incredibly sensitive.
MBNA RETURNS TO PROFIT AS JOBS SHED - MBNA's credit card business in Ireland has returned to profit after slashing costs and shedding 40% of its workforce, writes the Irish Times. The entire Carrick-on-Shannon based business was threatened with closure in 2011 when the Bank of America announced it was exiting the credit card business in the UK and Ireland. However, the doors have been kept open, but only after job numbers were slashed from 457 to 273. Bank of America sold its Irish credit card operations to Apollo Global Management in March. Bank of America continues to seek a buyer for MBNA's UK credit card loan book. Revenues last year decreased by 42% to €15.3m from €26.5m. The directors' report states that net operating expenses reduced from €26m to €15.3m "due to a combination of reduced people costs and other efficiency savings". The firm recorded a pre-tax profit last year of €1.67m following a pre-tax loss of €31.7m in 2011. Staff costs reduced from €16.66m to €9.1m.
IRISH-BASED SOFTWARE FIRM FENERGO LANDS €4m FUNDING - Irish-based software company Fenergo is set to double it staff in the coming months after it landed investment of €4 million to expand its operations overseas. The Irish Times says that the company, which currently employs about 55 people in Ireland, will add 50 jobs in Dublin in the next four months and, according to chief executive Marc Murphy, expects to employ 150 by the end of March. The new jobs will be high tech, high quality positions, with Fenergo seeking software engineers, business analysts and project managers in the financial technology space. The Dublin office currently serves all the company’s European clients. The funding, which was led by Investec Ventures through the Ulster Bank Diageo Venture Fund, will allow Fenergo to grow its business in overseas markets in the coming months. The company, which specialises in enabling financial institutions to meet regulatory compliance and data requirements when taking on new clients, is turning its attention to the North American market in the coming months, before moving into Asia Pacific in June next year.
VODAFONE PREPARES TO RAISE STAKE IN INDIAN UNIT - Vodafone is preparing to invest as much as $2 billion to buy out minority shareholders in its Indian business, says the Financial Times. This means it will become the first company to take advantage of new rules liberalising foreign ownership of telecoms group in Asia’s third-largest economy. The UK-based group will file an application this month to India’s foreign investment promotion board, a government body, to win permission for the investment, said two people familiar with the situation. In July, India liberalised telecoms rules to allow foreign businesses to own 100% of their subsidiaries, up from 74%, in a move designed to attract foreign capital. Vodafone’s move makes it the latest multinational to show faith in the long term potential of the Indian market, despite the company’s history of regulatory and legal disagreements with India’s government, including a still-unresolved $2.6 billion tax dispute. In July, Unilever announced plans to invest €2.45 billion to raise its stake in local subsidiary Hindustan Unilever to 67%, despite a recent sharp slowdown in India’s economy, as part of long-term strategy to increase its exposure to the country.