AUDI INVESTING €80m IN IRISH MARKET - The members of the German football squad are not the only people from that part of the world looking for a result in Ireland at the moment. Car maker Audi is investing in new showrooms and is in the midst of an €80m investment programme. It has also so far this year advanced €30m in finance to Irish car buyers.

Andrew Doyle, managing director of Audi Ireland, said despite new car registrations being down overall, that Audi has 45 different models for sale and it is the number one vendor in the "premium segment". The marque saw growth last year of 20% and he said the market is coming back "very strong" after a few years of a lull.

Mr Doyle said Audi is committed to investing in the Irish market and has strong support from head office in Germany. Audi has been investing €80m in ten new facilities, with one opening in Finglas in Co Dublin today, and new salesrooms in Sligo, Waterford and Galway. Mr Doyle said that Audi created 260 jobs in this expansion, not including jobs supported during the construction phase.

He said he expects an increase in car tax in the next budget, and would like to see any increase be minimalised as consumer uncertainty over the increases slows down sales.


MORNING BRIEFS - Irish Hotels need to reduce the amount of debt they are carrying by almost 40% or €2.5 billion from current levels if they are to sustain themselves according to a new report commissioned by the Irish Hotels Federation. The author, economist Alan Ahearne, finds the ratio of debt to hotel earnings is over 200% meaning any trading profits are being eaten up by the burden of repaying loans. The good news is revenues and occupancy rates are recovering but the report finds that won't be enough to save many hotels unless they can restructure their debts.

*** The European Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee will not give its approval for the appointment of Yves Mersch, the Luxembourg born central banker, to a vacant post on the European Central Bank's executive board. Sylvie Goulard, a French MEP who is a member of that committee, said in a statement that more effort should have been made to find a female candidate for the vacant post on the executive board. But rejection by the parliamentary committee won't stop him being appointed. The ultimate decision goes to the leaders of the Euro group of member states.

*** Apple shares finished down 2% after a US court overturned a ban on rival Samsung selling one of its smart phone models in America. That is seen as a setback for Apple in its ongoing patent dispute with Samsung.