Today in the pressTuesday 19 August 2014 09.49
RETAILERS FEAR TRANSITION TO NEW LOTTERY SYSTEM MAY DISRUPT TRADE - Retailers are unhappy with assurances from the National Lottery that the impending switchover to a new system will not involve additional costs or a disruption to trade.
The operators of the franchise, Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), are planning to roll out a new technology platform later this year, which will involve replacement of some 4,000 ticket terminals across its retail network, says the Irish Times. In a letter to the National Lottery in April, the umbrella group for retailers, RGData, raised concerns about the transition. Specifically, it sought assurances the installation of new terminals and their ongoing operation and servicing would not involve the imposition of any charges on retailers, who earn 6 per cent commission on ticket sales. The group also queried whether the operator had a contingency plan should the transition result in a temporary drop in service. In addition, it expressed concern the National Lottery’s new online channel would divert sales away from traditional retail agents. In its letter, RGData asked PLI to quantify the extent to which the growth in online sales would cannabalise the traditional sales channels and what level of overall sales were expected to come from online in the first year of operation. In a reply, PLI chief executive designate Dermot Griffin said the company was “very aware” of its commitments to retailers in terms of their commission under the new lottery licensing arrangements, and he pledged to keep them updated during the transition.
FINAL SELL-OFF OF LOANS LINKED TO IBRC IS UNDER WAY - The special liquidators of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) have begun the sales process for the final €2.4 billion worth of loans linked to the former bank. The loans have been divided across three so-called projects - Amber, Quartz and Pearl, says the Irish Independent. The sales process for Project Amber, which includes €675m worth of Irish-based corporate and commercial loans, began last week, the special liquidators confirmed. Accountants PwC are advising special liquidators Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson of KPMG on Project Amber. The sales process for Projects Quartz and Pearl are expected to begin next month. Quartz includes €1.1 billion worth of commercial property loans, while Pearl is comprised of €655m worth of mortgages, mostly in the Republic. Binding bids for Amber are expected by October, with November and December pencilled in for Quartz and Pearl. The special liquidators compiled a progress report which was published by Finance Minister Michael Noonan in June and showed that 90% of the loan book had been sold since the scandal-hit lender was placed into liquidation in February of last year, with €21.7 billion of loans brought to the market.
CLARE FAMILY SELLS DATA DISPLAY - A Co Clare family has sold its electronic display firm to a US rival for an undisclosed sum. Kevin Neville established Data Display in 1979 and oversaw the firm growing into one of Europe’s largest producers of electronic displays, writes the Irish Examiner. The firm, based in Ennistymon, employs 150 and the firm’s signs are used by commuters travelling on the New York subway, the Dart in Dublin, the Metro in Paris and the London Underground. Mr Neville retired a number of years ago and Data Display is today led by his son, Paul, and daughter, Ann-Marie. Kevin, Paul, Ann-Marie along with Sarah and Theresa Neville are all listed as shareholders in Data Display. The most recently filed accounts for Data Display Holdings Ltd show that it increased its pre-tax profits more than fourfold to €280,085 in spite of revenues declining by 10% from €17.35m to €15.49m in the 12 months to the end of December 2012. The firm’s shareholder funds stood at €6.6m.
IMPERIAL TOBACCO SALES DISRUPTED BY ISIS - The rise of Islamic extremism in the Middle East has disrupted sales growth at Imperial Tobacco, which has blamed the “turbulent situation” for falling cigarette and tobacco sales in Iraq, one of its key growth markets, writes the Financial Times. “In several Middle Eastern markets, sales have been disrupted by the deteriorating security situation,” the company said in an otherwise positive third quarter trading statement. The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis, has caused disruption to supply in the region as a result of road closures and damage to retail outlets, which is making it harder for Imperial’s distributors to operate in some areas. The company would not quantify the effects of the disruption, but stressed that its full-year outlook remained unchanged, and reiterated that it expected to increase its full-year dividend by “at least 10%”. “Whilst conditions are still tough in a number of our markets, our [global] footprint provides balance,” said Alison Cooper, Imperial’s chief executive. Tobacco net revenue rose 2% to £4.8 billion on an underlying basis, which stripped out the effects of Imperial’s “stock optimisation” programme launched earlier this year, in the nine months to June 30.