Morning business news - August 8

Friday 08 August 2014 10.34
Morning business news with Conor Brophy
Morning business news with Conor Brophy

Overseas visitor numbers are on the rise and there are signs of a pick-up in consumer spending at home. For those in the tourism and leisure business it seems that things are finally looking up. That is certainly the case for the Powerscourt Hotel which, just over a year ago, was bought out of liquidation by Brehon Capital Partners.

The hotel's general manager David Webster says the business has gone very well over the past 12 months and consumers are responding well to its new brand. Mr Webster notes that international business is strong, as well as leisure and conference demands. Noting "healthy" summer bookings, he says the wedding market for next year is also looking good. The hotelier says the key concerns for Powerscourt over the past year was to offer customer satisfaction and keep costs under control, adding that it was too early in the year to take about profits. 

Mr Webster says that consumer sentiment here is improving and the strong economic recoveries in the UK and US are reflected in the improving number of tourists coming here. But he says that a lot of hotels around the country are in a distressed state and predicts that more sales will take place over the coming months.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Malaysia Airlines will be de-listed and taken private ahead of a major restructuring following the double disasters of MH370 and MH17, under a proposal announced earlier today by its majority shareholder. State investment vehicle Khazanah Nasional, which owns 70% of the flag-carrier, said it would purchase the 30% of the company's shares it does not already own and finalise a restructuring plan by the end of the month. Khazanah has offered $429m to take the troubled carrier private. Malaysia Airlines shares have shed almost a quarter of their value since January following the loss of two of its planes. But the airline was heavily loss-making even before the disappearance of flight 370 earlier this year and the downing of flight 17 in Ukraine. It has lost more than $1 billion over the past three years and is expected to lose a further $300m this year.

*** The chief executive of KBC Bank in Ireland has said the speed at which house prices are rising in Dublin is a concern and he also cast doubt on an ESRI report suggesting property in the capital is still undervalued. Wim Verbraken said the extent of any undervaluation in Dublin is either small or non-existent. He said the the lack of homes available to buy in Dublin is creating a situation where the bank is approving loans which are not drawn down because the borrowers can not find a property within their price range.

*** European stock markets are expected to open lower across the board. With the US set to initiate airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, Asian shares fell heavily overnight and Tokyo's Nikkei was down 3%. Brent crude, which was at a nine month low, rose 1% on fears of disruption to oil supply.