BANK OF IRELAND TO SEEK 450 VOLUNTARY REDUNDANCIES IN NEXT YEAR - Another 450 staff will leave Bank of Ireland as part of its voluntary redundancy programme, it emerged yesterday. Bank of Ireland chief financial officer Andrew Keating said the bank has still to use up €25 million of a €45 million charge it has taken for redundancies to trim its costs base, reports the Irish Times. Mr Keating said each redundancy costs on average €55,000 with the bank receiving a payback after 12 months. This means 454 staff will depart in the next year or so. The bank’s annual results yesterday showed it cut its cost base by 10% or €80 million last year to €691 million as its headcount fell 761 to 11,255. Chief executive Richie Boucher said about 2,000 staff have left on voluntary severance terms since June 2012. He said the bank would consider additional outsourcing if it would benefit the business. “I think we will continue to use a programme of outsourcing . . . where we have particular needs at a point in time,” he said, adding the bank had already outsourced some functions, notably in technology.
DUBLIN TECH START-UP GETS €15m AFTER JUST FOUR MONTHS IN BUSINESS - A four-month-old Irish online messaging start-up is close to finalising around €15m in funding just over a week after Facebook's €14 billion acquisition of messaging firm WhatsApp, writes the Irish Independent. The meteoric rise of Kwikdesk, which is co-founded by Kevin Abosch, Connor Murphy and David Coallier, is set to result in one of the biggest global funding deals for a tech start-up so far this year. Kwikdesk's messaging platform service has seen strong interest from telecoms companies for the technology behind its service. News of the so-called 'Series A' funding round comes as telecoms operators scramble to incorporate online messaging systems, which are sinking their network-based SMS text and phone call revenues. "We launched in China in November and straight away there was real interest in Asia," said Mr Abosch. "It really struck a chord with people in Hong Kong who responded to Kwikdesk's ability to give communication opportunities to people who might have difficulty with other messaging routes, for various reasons."
HOBBS TURNS HIS FIRE ON OIL INDUSTRY WITH CAMPAIGN TO MAXIMISE RETURNS - Eddie Hobbs has picked his latest target, the oil industry, and is planning on putting a movement together to try and change Ireland’s attitude to offshore oil and gas. The first phase of Mr Hobbs’s Own Our Oil campaign was the launch of a book yesterday with the same title that aims to change the public’s attitude to Irish oil resources, says the Irish Examiner. The book looks at Ireland’s geology, policy, taxation, history and planning when it comes to the oil industry and is dedicated to former minister Justin Keating who developed a strict taxation regime for Irish resources in the 1970s. The book is the first part of a campaign that is aiming to challenge the oil and gas industry in Ireland. Mr Hobbs warned that if the oil industry attempted to dismiss his campaign he would “take them apart”. In the book, Mr Hobbs places a lot of emphasis on the difference in regimes between Ireland and Norway. Norway managed to build a sovereign wealth fund three times larger than Ireland’s national debt by effectively managing its natural resources. However, the chairman of the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association, Fergus Cahill, said comparing the two countries is a fundamental mistake.
KICKSTARTER CROWDFUNDING PLATFORM PASSES $1 BILLION IN PLEDGES - It has brought the world smartwatches, piano keys made of bananas and a head-covering pillow that allows users to sleep like an ostrich. Now, Kickstarter - one of the world’s largest crowdfunding platforms - has passed $1 billion in pledges, says the Financial Times. The website - which enables users to part-fund entrepreneurial projects in exchange for benefits in kind - hit the milestone just hours after The Square, a film it helped to finance, missed out on an Oscar for best documentary feature. Kickstarter said it raised the second $500m of its $1 billion total in the past 12 months, having been launched in 2009. The inspiration for the site came from Perry Chen, a jazz fan frustrated at being unable to raise enough money to bring a DJ to a New Orleans festival. He co-founded the service with friends Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler. Since then, along with rival platforms such as Indiegogo, Kickstarter has been used to finance medical research, a $1.5m space telescope backed by Google’s Larry Page, and a bus stop in Georgia inspired by the B-52’s pop song Love Shack.