SIAC FACES EXAMINERSHIP AFTER POLISH LOSSES - Siac Construction, one of Ireland’s largest construction groups, is expected to seek the protection of the courts this week, possibly as early as today, as losses in Poland threaten the 100-year-old business. It is expected the application to the courts will be supported by the group’s main lenders, Bank of Ireland, KBC and Bank of Scotland Ireland, writes the Irish Times. The Siac group has operations in Ireland, Britain, Belgium, Canada and Poland and has approximately 560 employees. Efforts to get a comment from the group last night were unsuccessful. Examinership is a process whereby a company or group of companies can get protection from its creditors while it seeks to put in place a viable plan for a business in difficulties. Last year, the group cancelled a €400 million road project in Poland because of a dispute it was having with a local authority there. At the time, Siac chief executive Finn Lyden said the Polish road system was “a total and absolute mess and we felt we were better off out of it”. He said the company was going seek damages of €22 million and make a complaint to the European Commission. Earlier this year the European Commission announced it was freezing hundreds of millions of euro in development aid for Poland, because of fears of corruption in road-building.
STRYKER SUBMITS PLANS FOR NEW €22m R&D HUB - US surgical device maker Stryker has submitted plans for a $30m (€22m) expansion to its Cork facility that will make the location a hub for the group's R&D activity, reports the Irish Independent. Stryker, which also makes orthopaedic implants, announced last year that it planned to make the major investment in its existing Cork facility. The plans have just been lodged with Cork County Council. They call for a 4,144sq m (44,600sq ft) two-storey research and development and product innovation centre. "This will provide for product design and technology development, product testing facilities and manufacturing process development areas at ground-floor level," the application notes. It will also include product training facilities and other ancillary works. The first floor of the new building will house technical support areas. The investment in the Stryker plant will see the company develop its next generation of surgical devices in Cork.
'ARTEMIS FOWL’ AUTHOR TURNS A NEW CHAPTER AS PROFITS SOAR TO €1.7m - Crime pays - at least the fictional sort - for Ireland’s bestselling children’s author, Eoin Colfer as new figures show accumulated profits at his firm jumped 134% to €1.669m last year. The former Co Wexford teacher has sold over 25 millio books translated into 44 languages around the globe about the adventures of his teenage criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl, says the Irish Examiner. In July, Disney added to Colfer’s coffers when they confirmed that the adventures of Artemis Fowl are to be made into a movie. One of the most influential figures in cinema, Harvey Weinstein, is to also produce, with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix scribe, Michael Goldenberg, writing the screenplay. The film will cover the first two books of the series. Colfer published the eight and final book in the bestselling series last year and the new accounts reflect the financial success of the installment. They show that the married father of two’s Artemis Fowl Ltd cash pile increased by €919,000 from €819,332 to €1.738 at the end of December last. The figures, just filed with the Companies’ Office, show the firm last year increased its profits by €956,226 from €713,201 to €1.669m. The firm paid corporation tax of €32,762 following a payment of €101,960 in corporation tax in 2011.
GERMAN CITY APARTMENTS OVERVALUED, WARNS BUNDESBANK - The Bundesbank has warned that apartment prices in Germany’s biggest cities could be overvalued by as much as 20%, stepping up its concern about a real estate boom in the powerhouse of the European economy. The warning will feed into German concern that the European Central Bank’s monetary policy is far too loose for the country. The bank’s main refinancing rate is 0.5%, a record low. It also adds to signs that international investors are fuelling rising property prices around the world. The trend reflects the lack of opportunities investors regard as a safe haven and low returns for traditional asset classes such as bonds and stocks. Rapid price rises have particularly affected the seven largest cities in Germany, the central bank said, although the value of houses had risen at a more moderate pace. Flats in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Düsseldorf had, on average, seen prices rise more than 25% since 2010. “After the real estate bubbles in the US and several European house markets burst, the German property market, which had been quiet for many years, became more attractive to international investors,” the Bundesbank said in its monthly report for October.