BROWN THOMAS TO WIND-UP DORMANT COMPANIES AHEAD OF REFURBISHMENT - The owners of Irish department store retailer Brown Thomas have decided to wind up about 10 dormant companies registered here with the companies office. Brown Thomas managing director Stephen Sealey said it was a housekeeping exercise, writes the Irish Times. "They are all dormant companies and haven’t traded for years. Some of them have an emotional attachment given the history of the business, but we’ve decided to tidy up the structure," he said. Mr Sealey said the process would begin in the coming weeks with adverts appearing in national newspapers about the liquidation of various entities owned by the group. It could take up to 10 months to complete as some of the entities will seek a members’ voluntary liquidation. The first tranche of companies to be wound up will include Gaywear Ltd, Switzer & Co, The Bailey Ltd and John S Ferguson Ltd. Others that will be liquidated will include Cash and Company Ltd, Brown Thomas & Co (Investments) Ltd and Alexander Moon Ltd. Mr Sealey said Carlow Investment Company Ltd would continue to operate as the holding company for the retailer’s activities here. It made an operating profit of €6 million on turnover of €143.5 million for the year to February 2nd, 2013, according to its latest accounts. Brown Thomas is part of the UK-based Selfridges retail group and is owned by successful Canadian businessman Galen Weston and his family.
EU STUDY CRITICISES TROIKA ROLE IN CRISIS - The troika, set up to oversee austerity programmes in Ireland and other crisis countries, could not get its own house in order and was reluctant to adapt to differing conditions in its client countries, a European Parliament study found. It recommends scrapping the troika and setting up a European Monetary Fund team taking over the role of the experts in the European Commission, with the ECB present as a silent observer and the IMF being optional, says the Irish Examiner. Any austerity measures should be accompanied by a growth task force and the impact of any measures on all parts of society should be properly considered. The findings were warmly welcomed by Labour MEP Phil Prendergast, but she decried the fact that so many of the centre-right and right-wing members of the parliament were still insisting that public debt was to blame for the euro crisis, rather than the banks. "This belief led to a punitive austerity strategy that the European Central Bank helped impose on national governments, when it should have no business dictating budgetary policy," she said, adding it explained why the EU leaders have failed to deliver on their promise to lighten Ireland’s bank bailout legacy costs.
ZUCKERBERG ATTACKS PACE OF SURVEILLANCE REFORM - Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and chief executive, has strongly criticised the US government for dragging its heels on plans to reform its mass surveillance programme. In a post on the social network, Mr Zuckerberg said he had called President Barack Obama to express his “frustration” over the damage the government is creating for “all of our future”. “Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform,” he said. Facebook has been part of a coalition of US technology companies, alongside companies such as Google and Yahoo, which have expressed outrage at revelations that the National Security Agency may have accessed their services without permission to help collect large troves of data on foreign citizens. Mr Zuckerberg’s statement came the day after the latest report based on leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden suggested the NSA had posed as a Facebook server as it tried to infect people’s computers. The NSA responded to the report on Thursday afternoon, saying it had never impersonated any US company websites. It said reports that it had infected millions of computers with malware were inaccurate and that it only used its technical capabilities to support “lawful and appropriate foreign intelligence operations”.