DENIS O'BRIEN SELLS €4.7m WORTH OF AER LINGUS SHARES - Businessman Denis O’Brien sold €4.7 million worth of shares in Aer Lingus, cutting his stake in the airline to less than 3%, says the Irish Times. The news comes as the company conditionally awarded almost one million shares to chief executive, Christoph Mueller and his recently appointed boardroom colleague Bernard Bot under a bonus programme. According to a notice formally issued to the market late on Tuesday, Mr O’Brien reduced his holding to 12.75 million shares from 16.81 million on July 31st. The stocks closing price was €1.33 on the day, valuing the shares sold by Mr O’Brien at €4.7 million. The move reduced his holding to 2.4%. That is less than the 3% stake that obliges investors to inform the market of any transaction. The airline has conditionally granted Mr Mueller 532,355 shares under a long- term incentive programme; the award is tied to its performance up to the end of 2016. Mr Mueller is leaving in May.
SWEDISH SEAFOOD GROUP TO LAND MAYO DEAL - Award winning Mayo-based seafood specialist William Carr and Sons is set to be sold to a Swedish rival in a rescue deal just days after going into receivership, the Irish Independent has learned. Receiver Kieran Wallace of KPMG was appointed to take control of William Carr and Sons by Ulster Bank on August 1. A sale of the business, which employs around 75 people, mostly in Co Mayo, has already been lined up. Sources close to the situation have named the buyer as Sweden's Mondi Seafood Group, which has had an Irish subsidiary since 2012. Family-owned William Carr and Sons has been around since the late 1940s and was originally based in north Cork. In 2004 the business bought Carrokeel Seafoods of Killala, Co Mayo, in a multi-million euro deal. The business is now based in Killala. The company processes and markets fish products, such as smoked and barbecued salmon and shell fish, for the Irish and export markets. William Carr and Sons is understood to have an annual turnover of around €12m, but has been loss-making in recent years.
DES KELLY INTERIORS SEES REVENUE LEVEL OFF AFTER PLUMMETING 50% SINCE 2008 - Revenues at one of the best-known names in retail, Des Kelly Interiors have levelled off after plummeting 50% since 2008. New accounts show that Des Kelly Interiors Ltd returned to pre-tax profit in the 12 months to the end of April 2013 with a profit of €421,144 after recording a pre-tax loss of €102,253 in 2012, says the Irish Examiner. The 2012 loss followed a property write-down. Des Kelly Interiors operates 12 retail outlets in Dublin, Meath and Kildare; employing 100 people and the return to profit last year came in spite of gross profits reducing by 9% to €4.7m. The carpet and furniture retail firm is over 50 years in business and is led by 73-year old Des Kelly who, according to a company spokesman, “is very much hands on - he is a young 73-year-old”. The spokesman added that the years between 2008 and 2013 “were very tough, where we had a cumulative 50% reduction in revenues and had to adjust the business accordingly. The adjustments included pay cuts and this had to be done in order to survive”. However, he said revenues for the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year show a levelling off in turnover.
PHARMA SHARES SLIDE ON FEARS OF 'TAX INVERSION' CLAMPDOWN - Investors fled global healthcare stocks on Wednesday after the Obama administration threatened action to halt the wave of transatlantic acquisitions by American companies seeking to cut their US tax bills. The sharp fall in several UK, Swiss and Irish companies reflected investor fears that one of the main driving forces behind this year’s surge of cross-border dealmaking in the healthcare sector could be brought to a halt by US political intervention, writes the Financial Times. Shares in Walgreens, the US pharmacy chain, plunged more than 14% after it confirmed it would pass up an opportunity to move its tax home to Switzerland in another sign that political pressure against inversions is beginning to work. Walgreens announced a well-trailed £9 billion deal to acquire full control of Switzerland-based Alliance Boots - but without an inversion that could have saved the company billions of dollars in taxes. Gregory Wasson, Walgreens chief executive, told the FT an inversion would likely have faced “intense and maybe prolonged” scrutiny from US tax authorities. The decision followed a warning from the US Treasury on Tuesday that it was “reviewing a broad range of authorities for possible administrative action” to deter companies from using cross-border deals to escape US taxes.