GREENCORE EYES US MARKET FOR EXPANSION - Food group Greencore has published results for the first six months of its financial year. It says its operating profit fell 11.7% to €31m, adjusted earnings per share were down 17.8% to 7.4 cent and that it successfully refinanced €410m of banking facilities in the last two months. On a constant currency basis, the group says sales rose by 3% to €545m. But it reported a loss before tax of €27m, compared to a profit of €24m the same time last year.

Greencore's CEO Patrick Coveney says trading held up well in challenging conditions over the six months, and that the group looks forward to the more important summer period. Mr Coveney says the group saw growth, at a constant currency basis, in profits at both of its divisions - convenience foods and ingredients and related property. He also says the company is on track to build a 'meaningful' convenience food business in the US. Greencore has also strengthened its balance sheet by refinancing €410m of its debt in the past two months. He says Greencore's pre-tax loss of €27m for the six month period reflects the near €50m impact for two non-cash exceptional items. This includes a restructuring charge of €25m.

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FINANCIAL REGULATOR SLAMMED OVER FAILURE TO CONTROL HOUSING BUBBLE - The Financial Regulator failed to control the property market bubble. A report says the fact that it did not dampen the the market at an earlier stage contributed to and magnified the current downturn in Ireland. The report comes from the consumer consultative panel at the Financial Regulator, which says that regulatory failure also cost consumers 'significant amounts of money'. The report also criticised the 'deficient' response of the Regulator to threats to consumers. The panel was set up to monitor the performance of the Financial Regulator from a consumer point of view, and is chaired by consumer lawyer Raymond O'Rourke.

Mr O'Rourke says it is rather absurd to expect consumers to believe that the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator could not have influenced the marketplace sooner, when you note that seven members are common on both boards. He says the Regulator maintained that it was not able to regulate some of the products that were on the markets, such as sub-prime mortgages and 100% mortgages. He says his group were always told at briefings with the Financial Regulator that it had agreed to a principles-based regulation because that what was needed to assist innovation in the market place. But he states that system has not worked for consumers.