FRENCH-LED CONSORTIUM SET TO TAKE OVER BUILDING GROUP SIAC - A consortium backed by French giant, Bouygues, looks poised to take over troubled building group, Siac, after the original preferred bidder for the company, businessman Brian Harvey, decided against going ahead with an offer. The High Court appointed Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton as examiner to Siac Construction and eight related companies late last year, giving them protection from creditors, including three banks owed €42 million. It is understood that a consortium made up of French group, Bouygues and involving Siac’s owners, the Feighery family, is likely to take the business out of examinership this month at a cost of between €12 million and €13 million, reports the Irish Times. The move is likely to secure the group’s core construction and engineering contracting operations and the 200-plus jobs that they support. The Feighery family will have a minority holding in the rescued business. The consortium is also said to involve Siac’s former chief executive, Finn Lyden. The group only recently emerged as the front runner to buy Siac. Businessman Brian Harvey, founder of construction and utility support business, Siteserv, was named as the preferred bidder for Siac shortly before Christmas.
MOODY'S KEEPS THE ANALYSTS GUESSING ON IRELAND'S JUNK STATUS - Analysts are now split on whether Moody's will lift Ireland's debt rating tomorrow in what has become a highly anticipated decision for the Government and investors. An upgrade from junk status had been widely tipped until last week when a scheduled review of Portugal's government rating passed without any comment from the agency, says the Irish Independent. "We admit to being very confused following Moody's silence on Portugal last Friday, despite an entered review date in the new EU calendar," said Fiona Hayes of Cantor Fitzgerald in Dublin. Downgrades by Moody's of the leading Irish banks last month means an upgrade of the government, or "sovereign," rating now looks less likely, she said. "It is difficult to see a scenario where Moody's can downgrade Irish banks but upgrade the Irish sovereign in the space of one month," Ms Hayes added. Moody's is the last of the so-called big three debt rating agencies that continues to rank Irish government debt as a "sub investment grade" or junk status. Moody's is scheduled to review Ireland's debt on Friday - which analysts and senior sources here had tipped as the likely date for an upgrade.
GOLD MINE COSTS LESS THAN EXPECTED - Costs related to the building and ongoing running of Ireland’s proposed first commercial gold mine, planned for Co Monaghan, are expected to come in significantly lower than initial estimates, says the Irish Examiner. Dublin-headquartered prospector, Conroy Gold and Natural Resources announced yesterday that the cost of establishing the processing plant, at the facility, should amount to around $18.5m (€13.6m). This is down from original estimates of almost $20.2m. Furthermore, the actual gold ore processing/ operating costs are now expected to amount to approximately $12.26 per tonne; more than $1 less than the original $13.64 per tonne estimate.
ATTACKS SPUR SURGE IN CYBER INSURANCE SALES - Sales of “cyber insurance” policies have surged almost a third at AIG, the biggest standalone insurer in the US, as companies seek to protect themselves from a growing onslaught of cyber attacks and data breaches, writes the Financial Times. “What we’ve been seeing is significant growth,” said Tracie Grella, who oversees AIG’s cyber insurance initiatives, as its head of professional liability. Sales of cyber insurance jumped 30% last year compared with 2012, she said. While cyber attacks - such as the recent security breach at Target - are on the rise globally, the market for the cyber insurance insurance policies remains a patchwork of highly-customised policies dominated by a few big insurance providers. Only 31% of US companies have cyber insurance policies, according to a report by Experian last year. A report from Betterley Risk Consultants, which provides risk management research, estimated in June that the annual gross written premium for US cyber insurance policies was $1.3 billion.