Morning business news - May 22

Thursday 22 May 2014 10.31
Morning business news with Conor Brophy
Morning business news with Conor Brophy

More than half of us now use video on demand services, internet-based content providers including the RTE Player and Netflix which enable consumers to watch television and films whenever they want. Research commissioned by RTE shows there has been an 18% rise in video on demand usage over the past year.

Anthony Quigley, chief executive of the Digital Marketing Institute, says that more and more consumers are choosing what, where and when they want to watch their television programmes. The Irish increase of 18% for video on demand usage is in line with the international average of 20% and Mr Quigley notes that Netflix is the second largest driver of online traffic in Ireland and the UK, coming only after You-tube. However, this increase in demand can have an impact on infrastructure. Mr Quigley says that if everyone decided to watch their television programmes over the internet at the same time, a big data traffic-jam would occur. To solve this problem in the US, Netflix have teamed up with a US service provider to help "throttle up" the speed of the broadband lines. While this may solve the buffering problem, it can act like a tolling system for consumers, he adds.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Ireland has risen to 15th in competitiveness rankings compiled each year by Swiss business school IMD. The country's position has improved from 17th last year and 24th as recently as 2011. Ireland is third in the world in terms of its image abroad and perception as a place in which to do business. IMD notes that for most countries there is a strong correlation between the image rank and the competitiveness ranking but that Ireland rates much higher on this criterion than its competitive position would suggest. IMD puts together this closely-watched list each year to rate how well countries manage all their resources to increase their prosperity. The overall ranking released today reflects more than 300 criteria, two-thirds of which are based on statistical indicators and one-third on a survey of 4,300 international executives.

*** Retailer Fat Face has pulled plans for a stock market listing. The clothing brand, which as over 200 shops between the UK and Ireland, cited a lack of demand among investors for retail shares. Fat Face was hoping to raise around £110m from the planned initial offering of its shares to the public. That would have valued the company at £440m. Private equity firm Bridgepoint bought Fat Face for £360m in 2007 when it was on the brink of collapse.

*** French insurer Axa is the latest large AstraZeneca shareholder to publicly urge the pharmaceutical company's board to open talks with Pfizer. The board rejected a $120 billion takeover offer from Pfizer earlier this week. That was 10% higher than Pfizer's original approach for AstraZeneca which was already the largest amount ever offered for a British company. The Financial Times reports this morning that a number of AstraZeneca shareholders are putting pressure on the board, now including Axa, to open talks with Pfizer though it says other investor are backing the board's decision.