Today in the pressWednesday 22 January 2014 09.29
BLOXHAM CREDITORS MAY GET 40% OF WHAT IT OWED - The creditors of liquidated stockbroking firm Bloxham could get 40% of what they are owed, rather than 10%, if the liquidator wins his challenge to the Irish Stock Exchange’s decision to revoke its membership, the High Court has heard. The firm’s largest creditors include National Irish Bank, owed €8.5 million, and the Revenue Commissioners, owed €2.3 million, writes the Irish Times. Liquidator Kieran Wallace claims the decision of the Irish Stock Exchange Ltd (ISE) to revoke the membership cost Bloxham some €6 million, was not made for proper purposes or for the benefit of the company as a whole, and should be set aside as null and void. His senior counsel Lyndon MacCann said the revocation had to be seen against the background of “project Chrysalis”, under which the ISE was planning to restructure so as to allow corporate members benefit from its €45 million reserves. The decision to revoke Bloxham’s membership in December 2012, when project Chrysalis was under way, appeared to arise from a view that, if Bloxham could be “got rid of”, there would be “a bigger cake” to be shared among a smaller number of firms, counsel argued.
NUMBER OF NEW BUILDINGS PLUMMETED NATIONWIDE LAST YEAR - The number of new buildings recorded across Ireland slumped by more than a third in 2013, new data shows. The numbers appear to pour cold water on early signs of a recovery in the construction sector, reports the Irish Independent. Some 7,943 new commercial and residential buildings were recorded in 2013, down 36% on the number recorded in 2012. The figures compare starkly to 2007, when a massive 96,000 new units were built. The statistics come from GeoDirectory, an organisation backed by An Post and Ordinance Survey Ireland and which manages Ireland's only complete database of commercial and residential buildings. Dublin was the only county in the country to record an increase in the number of buildings during the year. Carlow saw the worst declines, with a 78% decrease in new buildings. Just 48 new buildings were detected in the south-east county during 2013. Louth saw the second best result after Dublin, with new builds down by just 3%.
€1.35m LOSSES FOR BOOK RETAILER - The firm behind bookseller Hughes & Hughes incurred losses totalling €1.35m in the two years prior to the Hughes & Hughes brand disappearing last year, says the Irish Examiner. New figures for fiscal 2013 and 2012 show Sivota Ltd incurred losses totalling €696,821 in the 12 months to the end of March, 2013, and this followed losses of €659,577 the previous year. The continuing losses at the firm came ahead of Hughes & Hughes closing two of its stores at Dundrum and Swords in April of last year, with the firm entering a franchise agreement with Eason to operate its three remaining stores at Swords, Santry, and Ennis. Sivota was sitting on accumulated losses of €1.699m at the end of March last. Restructuring of the business last year came against the background of a 14% decline in the value of books sold in Ireland in 2013 with Nielsen Book Scan recording a 16% fall in the number of books sold. Hughes & Hughes Ltd collapsed in February 2010 with debts of almost €15m, but within months, founder Derek Hughes was able to resurrect a downsized business with the investment of the two men behind the Bus Stop chain of newsagents, Aidan Masterson and Pierce Moloney through Sivota Ltd.
MOUNTING CASH PILES AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES FOR TECH COMPANIES - A growing number of big US technology companies are heeding the call from Wall Street to hand more of their excess cash back to shareholders. But that does not look likely to stop a huge build-up of liquid reserves that has already left the sector with a cash mountain of historic proportions, writes the Financial Times. By the middle of last year, the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few tech winners had left just six companies - Apple, Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Oracle and Qualcomm - with more than a quarter of the $1.5 trillion held by US non-financial corporations, according to rating agency Moody’s. With nearly $150 billion in its coffers, Apple alone was sitting on close to 10% of corporate America’s cash. Behind this build-up lies a boom in profits in an industry that often displays winner-takes-all characteristics and where capital needs are usually low. Apple’s spending on plant, equipment and acquisitions has used up just 10-15% of its operating cash flow in recent years. Even Google, at the peak of a spending surge three years ago that unnerved Wall Street, was investing little more than a third of its cash flow on building out its network.