Today in the pressWednesday 20 August 2014 10.13
LANDMARK CITY OFFICE LIKELY TO BE DEMOLISHED AFTER €23m SALE - A landmark office and retail building at the junction of Dawson Street and Molesworth Street in Dublin city centre is likely to be demolished to make way either for a large department store or a mixed-use retail and office complex following its sale yesterday to Green Reit for around €23 million.
The complex previously served as the headquarters of Royal and Sun Alliance, and was bought in 2005 by Garret Kelleher's Shelbourne Developments for €63.5 million, says the Irish Times. The funding had been made available by the former Anglo Irish Bank. Two other Irish companies were under-bidders for what is regarded as one of the best redevelopment sites in the city centre: Crownway, an investment company controlled by the Doyle family of hotel fame; and Ardstone, an investment vehicle used by businessmen Donal O'Neill and John Daly. Green Reit is expected to demolish the five-storey block and replace it with a building more than twice its size with at least 20,000sq m (107,638sq ft) of floor space. This will either accommodate a large department store or a mixture of offices and shops, most of them fronting on to Dawson Street and Molesworth Street. The property backs on to Dawson Lane.
LUXURY PROPERTY BOOMING AS RICH POUR INTO MONACO - Monaco, the tax haven on the French Riviera, is experiencing a luxury-housing boom that includes the world's most expensive penthouse as developers prepare for an influx of millionaires and billionaires escaping higher taxes or a loss of banking privacy, says the Irish Independent. A "flow" of new residents is emigrating from Switzerland, where financial-secrecy laws are crumbling, said Jean Claude Caputo, managing director of broker Savills' French Riviera unit. They're drawn by the principality's "security, sophistication and climate," he said - as well as for financial reasons. The Swiss government signed an accord in May to automatically share bank data across borders. New levies on luxury homes in London and a US-led global crackdown on hiding assets will also probably attract the affluent to Monaco, which already counts pop stars, Formula One drivers and Russian billionaires among its inhabitants. One in three of Monaco's 38,000 residents are millionaires, according to a study by Spear's magazine and WealthInsight. As that number increases, home values will rise by about a fifth by June 2015, according to London-based Savills. That would almost erase losses sustained since the market's 2007 peak.
BITBUZZ REVENUES BREAK €1m MARK - Irish-owned wifi company Bitbuzz has seen revenues break the €1m mark in the first half of the year, on the back of strong growth in the last 12 months, writes the Irish Examiner. The wifi network operator grew revenues by 11% year-on-year to more than €1.1m - up from €980,000 in the same period last year. Bitbuzz managing director Shane Deasy attributed much of the company’s continued success to increased demand from customers in retail outlets and a new simplified login process which is encouraging more logins. “We are extremely pleased with the growth we are experiencing in 2014 so far. We are starting to see the results of our hard work in the UK, as we now supply the same number of hotels in the United Kingdom as we do in Ireland. “In Ireland, we are continuing to see the knock on effect of increased appetite for wifi among consumers, with a marked increase in business with Costa Coffee, Spar and Applegreen and Insomnia. “We attribute the continued growth of daily logins to the simplified login process we introduced early this year, which has proved extremely popular with users as the number of smartphones and tablet computers in the country continues to grow,” said Mr Deasy. Subscriptions to the service have also continued to increase in the past year with a 50% year-on-year increase in the number of registered users of the service, bringing the total to almost three million.
STANCHART'S LATEST STUMBLE STOKES CONCERNS IT IS ACCIDENT PRONE - Standard Chartered was quick to play down the impact of Tuesday’s settlement with New York’s Department of Financial Services for failures in its transaction surveillance systems, pointing out that it affects only small parts of its operations. But shareholders are concerned that the emerging markets bank is looking increasingly accident prone, even though the $300m fine that StanChart is paying to Benjamin Lawsky’s DFS is worth only slightly more than 7% of last year’s $4.2 billion of net profits. After StanChart suffered a one-fifth fall in pre-tax profits in the first half of the year, investors will be watching closely for the cost of any fresh compliance and regulatory requirements, says the Financial Times. Peter Sands, chief executive, said last month that regulatory costs were already adding 1-2% - or $100m-$200m - to its costs every year. As part of its agreement with New York’s top financial watchdog, the bank will suspend dollar clearing activity for high-risk business clients - mostly small- and medium-sized enterprises - in Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. It will be barred from accepting new customers for dollar clearing without prior approval from the DFS. The bank has also agreed to include “identifying information for originators and beneficiaries of some affiliate and third-party payment messages cleared through the New York branch”.