Morning business news - February 20

Thursday 20 February 2014 11.07
Morning business news with Conor Brophy
Morning business news with Conor Brophy

The purchase of WhatsApp is the largest acquisition ever of a venture capital-backed startup. New figures in the Irish Venture Capital Association Venture Pulse survey show that Irish SMEs raised €285m from investors last year, up 6% on the previous year. Over 95% of the funds were raised by knowledge based companies covering software, medical devices, pharma and biotech. 

Regina Breheny, director general of the Irish Venture Capital Association, says that venture capital funding is a very important source of funding for indigenous technology companies, adding that there are some good businesses being built up here at the moment. She says the "hot" sectors includes the medical devices sector, adding that Ireland is also building up an intensive media sector which includes the cartoon and gaming industry. These industries are also good investments because they use capital efficiently, she adds. 

Mr Breheny says that because of low returns from cash and bonds, pension funds are now seeking alternative investments. She says that as an asset class, venture capital is starting to be seen as a good investment opportunity. While pension funds have their own issues, they are starting to engage with the venture capital industry, she adds.

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MORNING BRIEFS - The 37 year-old Ukrainian Jan Koum is a newly minted billionaire following Facebook's acquisition of the company he co-founded, WhatsApp, in a $16 billion deal cash and share deal. The deal also includes a further $3 billion in restricted Facebook stock for WhatsApp's 55 staff. Koum arrived in the US as a 16 year-old and his family lived on foodstamps as they struggled to make ends meet following their arrival. According to Forbes magazine he is now worth $6.8 billion.

*** Ryanair will double the size of its fleet over the next 15 years, according to its deputy chief executive Michael Cawley. In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Cawley mentions the 175 aircraft Ryanair bought from Boeing last year. He said the airline could easily place another two orders of that size. He said Ryanair could increase passenger numbers from 110 million a year to 150 million a year simply by increasing traffic at airports it already serves. The aim is for Ryanair to encourage people in large markets such as Italy and Germany to fly as often as its Irish and UK customers do.