Today in the pressThursday 07 November 2013 16.12
BLACKSTONE CONSIDERS RE-ENTERING AUCTION FOR BORD GAIS ENERGY - Private equity giant Blackstone is taking a second look at a bid for Bord Gais Energy, despite pulling out of the privatisation auction earlier in the year, reports the Irish Independent. An offer could reinvigorate the sale process, where the Government is under pressure because offers are falling short of a price of up to €1.4 billion it had hoped to raise from the sale of Bord Gais Energy (BGE). Sources said last night that while Blackstone was considering a new offer for BGE, no decision had yet been taken to formally re-enter the bidding process. That auction process has become a struggle after a number of bidders pulled out of the race, leaving a bid led by Northern Ireland's Viridian, owned by Arcapita of Bahrain, and a bid from Canada's Brookfield, as the potential buyers. That follows the withdrawal of Malaysia's state power company Tenaga National and the effective withdrawal of UK utility Centrica from the process. It is understood that Blackstone has been invited back into the running in an attempt to shake up the competition, and hopefully lift the bidding.
BELGIAN COURT DISMISSES RYANAIR CONTRACTS CASE - A Belgian court has confirmed that former Ryanair crew members who were based in the country were employed on Irish contracts in a ruling that could have broader implications for the company, says the Irish Times. In one of a number of such cases that Ryanair is fighting in different jurisdictions, the six former crew members who had been based at its Charleroi hub were seeking to have their contracts recognised under Belgian law, which could have entitled them to €20,000 in bonuses and social payments. However, the Belgian court dismissed the case, saying that it was not “competent” to hear it and that it should be dealt with under Irish law. Ryanair welcomed the ruling and said it confirmed the airline’s position that its crew are employed on Irish contracts as they operate on Irish-registered aircraft (which is defined as Irish territory) and pay their taxes in the Republic. The ruling could have implications beyond Belgium. Ryanair has always maintained that its position is based on EU law and it is facing litigation on the same issue in other jurisdictions. The company is planning an appeal in a similar case in France, this time relating to a number of staff who were based at its former base in Marignane, near Marseille.
INTERIM EXAMINER FOR BENETTON STORES - An interim examiner has been appointed to the company which operates six United Colors of Benetton stores in the Republic. The High Court was told T&P Kavanagh Enterprises, Thurles, Co Tipperary, has debts of €1.4m, with United Colors of Benetton being the main creditor, says the Irish Examiner. Counsel Jonathan Fitzgerald said T&P Kavanagh Enterprises runs six stores nationwide employing 26 staff. He said the company had built up a significant trade debt with Benetton, Italy, between 2007 and 2010 when it and the Italian clothing giant could not agree on a stock purchase agreement. Management at the firm, Mr Fitzgerald said, had worked very hard since 2011 and three shops in Thurles, Kilkenny, and Dungarvan, had been turned around and were showing a profit. Three other stores in Carlow, Tullamore and Athlone, he said, are in areas of increased competition and a question mark lies over their viability.
NEW YORK POLICE CHIEF IN TALKS ON JPMORGAN SECURITY ROLE - Ray Kelly, the uncompromising chief of the New York Police Department, is in talks to join JPMorgan Chase in a senior security-related role, according to people familiar with the matter. Winning plaudits for the falling New York City murder rate but attracting criticism for the force’s stop-and-frisk policy, Mr Kelly would be a controversial choice for JPMorgan. And the bank, which is mired in investigations into diverse business practices - including by the Federal Bureau of Investigation - would be a contentious employer for the police commissioner, says the Financial Times. Security jobs at the biggest banks have become significantly more complicated in recent years, involving liaising with the Central Intelligence Agency to avert cyber attacks from foreign governments, ensuring that systems can withstand terrorist attacks and natural disasters, and tackling money laundering. Mr Kelly is known for promoting stop and frisk, a crime prevention strategy started under former mayor Rudolph Giuliani that has been criticised as disproportionately targeting young black and Hispanic men.