O'Brien declines to rule out any future involvement with Eircom - Millionaire entrepreneur Denis O'Brien has not ruled out taking an interest in Eircom, which is currently in takeover talks with Australian investment house Babcock & Brown, writes the Irish Times. Mr O'Brien, whose E-Island group lost out to the O'Reilly led Valentia consortium in the battle for ownership of the telecoms group in 2001, said yesterday he 'wouldn't like to say at this stage' if he would get involved with an approach for Eircom again. The businessman was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Irish Proshare Association conference. Eircom faces its fourth change of ownership in seven years following a fresh takeover approach from Babcock & Brown Capital earlier this month. The fixed-line phone operator has been floated twice on the stock market since its sale by the Government in 1999. The Australian investment group now owns at least 21% of Eircom's stock, the phone company said last week, bringing the fund's holding close to the symbolic 21.5% held by the staff-controlled Employee Share Ownership Trust (ESOT). The increased stake means Babcock & Brown, like the trust, can block any other bid for Eircom because without its support no other bidder can cross the 80% threshold after which they can compulsorily acquire the remaining shares in a company.

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More C&W job cuts may affect Ireland - Telecoms group Cable & Wireless has not ruled out further job losses in Ireland following a decision by the company to cut staff numbers by 3,000 in Britain and Europe, reports the Irish Independent. A spokesman for the company said yesterday that locations have not been decided yet, and this could take months or even years. The spokesman also confirmed that for management purposes, Ireland is included in the UK region. Cable & Wireless is already shedding 28 out of its 150 strong workforce following a decision last month. The group, which has shed 23% of its staff since 2003, also announced a number of management changes and a plan to return £250m to shareholders. Cable & Wireless has issued two profit warnings since October last.

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Opel admits another plant is at risk - General Motors should have taken out more jobs when it got rid of 12,000 workers in Europe last year, and might yet have to close one of its main factories in the region, Hans Demant, head of Opel, GM's main European brand, warned on Tuesday. Mr Demant said in an interview with the Financial Times that the company 'probably did not cut deep enough' when it eliminated one in five of its European workforce, but said it was held back by the need to avoid destructive strikes.

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McDonald's to close 25 UK high street branches - Confirmation that bad publicity has wounded the world's largest fast food chain appeared to come this week with McDonalds' admission that it is to close 25 UK branches, writes the Guardian. Denis Hennequin, president of McDonald's Europe, has admitted that the company has been struggling in the UK in the face of a consumer backlash. McDonald's posted figures in the US that showed that its profit margins at the stores it operates itself in Europe had dipped from 15.6% to 14.9% in 2005. Analysts said, however, that it was too early to say that McDonald's was finished in the UK. Although it is closing 25 high street stores, it expects to open several new ones in places that attract higher numbers of shoppers.