STT RAISES BID FOR EIRCOM HOLDINGS - Singapore Technologies Telemedia (STT) has increased its bid for Eircom's main shareholder, intensifying expectation that a deal to acquire the heavily indebted telco is imminent, writes the Irish Times. Shares in Eircom Holdings (ERC), the Australian investment fund formerly known as Babcock & Brown Capital (BCM), have been suspended on the Sydney market while the fund's board considers STT's new proposal. Requesting the two-day suspension, ERC said in a Sydney Securities Exchange filing that it may update the market today on its engagement with STT. The fund's share price at the time of suspension, down 46.2% in 12 months, implied market capitalisation of 183.02 million Australian dollars (€106.78 million). STT's original approach anticipated the purchase of ERC for a price per share valuing it just below €30 million after an expected return of capital to shareholders. ERC proposed returning €78.15 million to its investors last Friday, implying that the first STT approach valued the fund at a little less than €108.15 million.
AER ARANN SEEKS TO RAISE EXTRA €10m AS RIVALS CUT COST AND CLIP THEIR WINGS - Aer Arann is looking to raise up to €10m as Ireland's only regional airline faces into the autumn/winter season. It is understood that the airline, which was founded by Padraig O Ceidigh, is looking to tap new investors for fresh funding, according to the Irish Independent. As Aer Arann is an unlimited company and does not file accounts at the Companies Office, it is hard to know the extent of its losses. But the worldwide airline industry is haemorrhaging cash as the recession continues and the H1N1 flu virus is expected to further hit passenger figures going forward. A spokesman for Aer Arann would not comment on the fundraising but said: "These are challenging times and it's a global thing. "We are starting to see some signs of improvement. Our advance bookings for winter so far this year are ahead of 2008." However, the spokesman said that market shares from January to June from Ireland/UK were up 5.1% compared with last year. Other airlines are also cutting costs and renegotiating deals in a bid to curb expenditure as they head into the winter season on a bad spring/summer note.
DRAFT IRISH HORSE BREEDING POLICY HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR FRESH STRATEGIES - A draft new breeding policy for the Irish sport horse sector, which is worth €400 million a year to the economy, has been launched says the Irish Examiner. The policy places particular emphasis on trying to address the decline in Ireland's standing as a breeder of top-class international show jumpers. Once again this year there will be no home bred horse on the Irish team for the Aga Khan Trophy at the RDS tomorrow. The draft policy prepared by Horse Sport Ireland following an extensive consultation process aims to improve the genetics of the Irish sport horse herd. A recent study conducted by University College Dublin estimated that 20,000 people are employed on a full-time and part-time basis in the sector, which has 53,000 participants. It has a horse population of 110,000, with a mare herd of 12,000, who produce 9,500 foals each year. Horse Sport Ireland director of breeding and programmes, Alison Corbally highlighted the need for new breeding strategies.
ABUSE CLAIM OVER GERMAN CAR SCHEME - Criminals are buying up tens of thousands of German cars meant for the scrapyard and exporting them as they profit from and subvert a government scheme intended to bolster the sale of new cars, a German police trade union has warned says the Financial Times. Abuse of the car-scrapping scheme, which has been widely copied elsewhere in the world as an anti-recession measure, has become widespread, with an estimated 50,000 German cars sold illegally overseas since it was introduced, the BDK police professional organisation said on Wednesday. Some 5 to 10% of cars that have been supposedly written-off have instead been transported to Africa and east Europe, it added. German government officials on Wednesday played down the scale of the problem, but Wilfried Albishausen, BDK deputy chairman, said that "what matters is that a subsidy has been introduced while totally overlooking that there are a lot of organised criminals with an interest and the structures in place to use it for their own purposes".