TROIKA WANTS SWIFT ACTION ON BANKS AND LEGAL PROFESSION - The troika is mounting a final push on the Government to settle entrenched problems in the banking, health, legal and welfare sectors before the bailout ends in mid-December. The international lenders want speedy action to improve mortgage payment discipline, increase drug budget savings, bolster efforts to tackle unemployment and implement a long-delayed overhaul of the legal profession, writes the Irish Times. Amid questions over the validity of key assumptions in the budget a fortnight ago, they will also carry out a detailed analysis of the likely savings from the measures set out in the fiscal plan for 2014. Central to this work will be an examination of the projected savings from a series of measures announced in last year’s budget which do not come fully into force until next year. A team of inspectors from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund arrived in Dublin yesterday for their 12th and final mission before the rescue programme concludes on December 15th. At the outset of their 10-day visit, they are concerned about “unfinished” but difficult reforms in a number of key sectors. This is in spite of repeated assurances from the Government that it has met all targets set for it in the bailout agreement.
NO WINTER STRIKE FEARS AT AER LINGUS, SAYS MUELLER - Customers have been told they should have no fears about strike action at Aer Lingus in the run-up to Christmas, even as unions ballot for industrial action. Passengers have no reason to worry that that there could be industrial action at the airline, according to chief executive Christoph Mueller. His reassurances came as the airline's cabin crew today complete a ballot initiated by trade union Impact that calls for action related to issues at Shannon Airport, says the Irish Independent. Mr Mueller claimed that the ballot was "absolutely unnecessary" because the resolution process had not been exhausted. Asked if passengers should be concerned about their bookings in the run-up to Christmas, Mr Mueller insisted they shouldn't. "I cannot see any conflict at this point in time which would justify a strike or which would end in a positive ballot," he said. Aer Lingus announced during the summer that it intended to hire more cabin crew to staff new services it would be running out of Shannon next year, as well as an inaugural Dublin-Toronto service that commences in 2014.
OPERATING PROFITS AT CONVENTION CENTRE FIRM INCREASE TO €5.4m - Operating profits at the firm that operates the Dublin Convention Centre last year increased nine fold to €5.4m, new figures show. Accounts just filed with the Companies Office by Spencer Dock Convention Centre Ltd show that the firm recorded the sharp rise in operating profits after revenues increased by 25% from €20.4m to €24.1m in the 12 months to the end of Feb 28, 2013. The firm recorded operating profits of €606,123 in 2011, says the Irish Examiner. The boost in fortunes arose from much larger events being hosted at the centre in 2012 with the centre confirming yesterday there was 340,000 delegate days last year - an increase of 112% on the previous year. Nick Waight, CEO of Convention Centre Dublin, said: “Since the Convention Centre opened, we have brought over 700,000 delegate days to Dublin with major benefits to the broader economy in spending on hotels, restaurants, transport and other things. “We were delighted to see our own income from events rising by over 50% in 2012 over 2011, but the benefit brought to the economy in general is a multiple of this.” The firm recorded a 32% drop in pre-tax profits declining from €6.7m to €4.63m that chiefly arose from an exceptional gain of €21.5m that did not re-occur last year.
GOLDMAN SACHS EASES WORK CONDITIONS OF JUNIOR INVESTMENT BANKERS - Goldman Sachs has eased the working conditions of its junior investment banking staff by discouraging them from working weekends, highlighting how investment banks are changing their culture to retain young workers, says the Financial Times. The US investment bank said it was in the process of implementing recommendations made by a “junior banker task force” of global executives created earlier this year, which assessed young investment banking staff’s working conditions and career development. Its proposals include hiring more entry-level employees, called analysts; providing additional opportunities for these analysts to spend time with their managers and clients and encouraging more predictable out-of-office hours. “The goal is for our analysts to want to be here for a career,” said David Solomon, Goldman Sachs’s co-head of investment banking. “We want them to be challenged, but also to operate at a pace where they’re going to stay here and learn important skills that are going to stick. This is a marathon, not a sprint.” Banks have started to reassess working conditions as stricter regulatory rules and lower revenues in most business areas are curbing their ability to reward extremely long hours with large bonuses. In addition, there is an intensified competition for talent with hedge funds, private equity groups and technology companies.