Today in the press

Wednesday 03 September 2014 11.43
A look at some of today's business stories in the newspapers
A look at some of today's business stories in the newspapers

SIX IRISH SHOPPING CENTRES FOR SALE IN ONE LOT - Six more Irish shopping centres are to be offered for sale in a single lot by Lloyds Banking in a further move to recover some of the development loans granted by its defunct Bank of Scotland Ireland. Joint agents Savills and Bannon are quoting €120 million for shopping centres at Douglas in Cork; Quayside in Sligo town; Bloomfields in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin; The Mill in Clondalkin, Dublin 22; Kilbarrack in Dublin 5; and Dundalk Retail Park in Co Louth, writes the Irish Times. The sale will also include a rented three-storey office building in Clondalkin and 30 acres of development land adjoining Dundalk Retail Park. The overall portfolio has around 170 tenants in all and includes 3,600 car-parking spaces in the seven different locations. The overall weighted average period remaining on the leases is over eight years. Lloyds has already appointed receivers to the properties in the Spectrum Portfolio which are currently producing a rental income of around €11 million. At that return, the seven investments will show a net initial yield of almost 9%. The sale is expected to be of interest to many of the overseas equity firms as well as to the Irish Reit (real estate investment trust) companies because of the opportunity to gain a significant foothold in the Irish retail market at a time when it is showing signs of bouncing back for the first time since 2006.

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BUSINESSMEN TO BUY FORMER QUINN OPERATIONS FOR €19m - A group of businessmen from the north-west are set to buy most of the former Quinn Group's manufacturing operations from the receivers for around €19m, reports the Irish Independent. The three businessmen, who created a firm called Quinn Business Retention Company in February, now appear to be in a position to buy the businesses of Aventas Manufacturing Group. The men, from both sides of the Border, say they have got backing from three major bondholders to complete the deal. They had previously tried to get backing from London-based investment houses. The trio are John McCartin, a Fine Gael councillor who leads Newtowngore Engineering, John 'Bosco' O'Hagan, managing director of the Specialist Joinery Group, and Ernie Fisher, former managing director of Fisher Engineering. The consortium says Sean Quinn is not involved in its bid but has given his blessing to their efforts to buy the company. The consortium also includes former chief executive Liam McCaffrey and former finance director Dara O'Reilly. While Mr Quinn is not involved with the group, there is nothing to stop him playing a role at a later date, sources say. The former Quinn Group's glass, plastic, packaging and radiator manufacturers employ around 1,000 people. The businessmen say they have the support of many of the previous executive team, including Mr McCaffrey, as well as the local workforce. they told the Irish Independent earlier this year that their prime objective was to keep the former Quinn Group whole, avoiding at all costs a breakup or piecemeal sale of individual businesses.

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WESTERN DIPLOMATS CONSIDER BOYCOTT OF RUSSIA 2018 WORLD CUP - Could boycotting the 2018 World Cup be more effective at persuading Russian president Vladimir Putin than an increasingly long list of economic sanctions? For the first time since the Ukraine crisis began nine months ago, EU diplomats are actively considering the idea, says the Financial Times. According to an options paper circulated in European capitals on Tuesday, the EU is considering whether to recommend suspending Russia from “high-profile international cultural, economic or sporting events” including Formula One races, European football competitions and the next World Cup, awarded to Russia in 2010. Diplomats said a boycott of the World Cup would not be among the new sanctions to be agreed by the end of the week. But during a meeting of EU ambassadors on Monday, several delegations - particularly Estonia and Lithuania - showed great enthusiasm for the idea, and the options paper suggests once new sanctions are decided, “thought could also be given to taking co-ordinated action” on a sporting ban. “This kind of discussion is timely, as we do not see goodwill from the Russian side,” said a Latvian diplomat, who said the debate so far had been “conceptual”. After the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the US led a boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, setting a precedent for using international sporting events as a proxy for geopolitical brinkmanship. Four years later, the Soviets retaliated, leading an eastern bloc boycott of the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. 

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ARTHUR ANDERSEN RETURNS 12 YEARS AFTER ENRON SCANDAL - The name Arthur Andersen, disgraced in the Enron scandal, is poised to make a comeback in a risky rebranding led by former employees, writes the London Independent. In early 2001, the accounting firm, founded in 1913, was one of the US’s largest. Within a year, it was out of business. Some of the 85,000 Andersen workers who lost their jobs in the aftermath launched a new San Francisco-based firm, WTAS, which avoided audit work in an attempt to distance itself from Enron. WTAS has grown into an international tax giant, and its leaders have now decided to reclaim the old name as Andersen Tax. Its chief executive, Mark Vorsatz, said he knows how crazy the move sounds, but he pointed to research among tax-service professionals in the US, Europe and China, which found that after 12 years out of business, the Andersen name had a better reputation than all but three of the largest accounting firms. Although many respondents surveyed by WTAS said they saw how Andersen could be seen as “a tarnished brand”, more viewed the firm as “high quality” and “ethical”. The surprising results convinced executives that the rebranding was worth the risk.