STAFF AT SETANTA SPORTS TO SCORE SHARE OPTIONS - Staff at Irish TV broadcaster Setanta Sports are set to be given up to 10% of the business in share options, as part of a scheme devised by its owner Michael O’Rourke. Setanta Sports Broadcasting Ltd, which is based in Dublin, confirmed to The Irish Times yesterday that up to 90 of the company’s 130 staff could benefit from the scheme. Options will be made available to staff with at least one year of service and there will be a vesting period of two years before the options becomes exercisable. The documentation on the scheme is expected to be distributed to staff today. While Setanta does not reveal its subscriber numbers, it is believed to have had a successful year following its association with BT Sport and other content acquisition deals in 2013. The Setanta Sports Pack now carries the BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN channels in the Republic. These bring an additional 38 English Premier League games to the Setanta line up, in addition to the 33 games that the broadcaster shows here on Saturday afternoons as part of an Irish rights package that it won.
AER LINGUS COSTS COULD JUMP €10m IF HEATHROW RUNWAY PLAN HAS WINGS - Costs at Aer Lingus could rise by €10m a year under a draft funding plan for a third runway at Heathrow, says the Irish Independent. The airport would increase the cost it levies per passenger from £20 to £24 to fund the £16.8 billion (€21 billion) project. But there's currently no certainty that a third runway will be built at Heathrow, which is Europe's busiest airport. Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said that the plan for the third runway has been submitted to the UK's Airports Commission and that he's confident the government will back it. He hopes the controversial runway would open in 2025. If Heathrow is successful in persuading the government and the draft funding plan is implemented, it will immediately impact Aer Lingus, which has the third-biggest number of take-off and landing slots at Heathrow. Investec analyst Gerard Moore estimated that Heathrow accounts for about 17% of the total airport charges incurred by Aer Lingus and that a 20% increase would add €10m to its cost base. "Aer Lingus, along with all operators out of Heathrow, would look to pass this cost onto passengers, but this could be a difficult task given the competition from rival airports in the London area," he said.
DEFERRED TAX ISSUE AMONG THOSE RAISED BY AUDITORS - Problems with how companies are recognising deferred tax assets as well as the quality of credit risk disclosures are among the issues highlighted by the Irish Auditing & Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA) in its annual report. The IAASA regulates the nine accounting bodies in the State which between them have 32,641 members and 1,603 statutory audit firms, says the Irish Examiner. As it stands, individual complaints over auditing standards are handled by the relevant accounting body. The IAASA will review how these accounting bodies deal with these complaints. The IAASA will directly examine financial reports of public companies to ensure that they comply with accounting standards. These companies are selected on a rotational basis. Even though the companies that have been reviewed are made public, the IAASA legally cannot disclose individual findings against companies. However, this will change when the full measures of the Companies Act 2012 are introduced. Over 2013, the IAASA completed 32 examinations of financial statements and raised 131 issues with these accounts.
POUND HITS SIX-YEAR DOLLAR HIGH - Investors pushed sterling to a six-year high against the dollar on Tuesday after manufacturing data boosted expectations that the Bank of England will become the first major central bank to raise interest rates. The Financial Times says that ebounding UK growth has pushed the pound up about 11% against the dollar and 7% against the euro in the past year, the strongest performance of any of the major developed country currencies. Sterling increased another 0.3% against the greenback on Tuesday to trade at $1.7146, the highest since late 2008, and 0.4% against the European single currency to €1.2539. A stronger pound hurts the profitability of exporters but will boost consumer spending power, since it cuts the cost of imported goods and makes holidays abroad less expensive. However, policy makers have expressed concern about the rise in the value of sterling, arguing that it could exacerbate existing imbalances in the British economy. Mark Carney, BoE governor, warned last month against “excessive reliance on consumption or non-tradable sectors . . . financed by borrowing abroad at an overvalued exchange rate”. He cited sterling’s strength as one factor that could limit the pace and extent of interest rate rises.