BT IRELAND SEEING SHIFT IN HOW PEOPLE INVEST IN IT SYSTEMS - Telecoms operator BT Ireland has delivered a 4% increase in revenues to £739.9m (€876m) for last year. Its UK parent company BT reported higher than expected profit for the year but revenues were down by 5%. BT sprang something of a surprise last year when it emerged as a successful bidder for a package of 38 live English Premier League football games per season for three years from August 2013 at a cost of £246m per season. A bigger surprise still was the news that it will offer its new sport channels for free to its UK broadband internet customers.

Colm O'Neill, chief executive of BT Ireland, says the company is pleased with its performance, especially given the still challenging economic environment. He said the firm focused on the areas it said it would - fibre investment in Northern Ireland and large businesses, public sector and wholesale customers in the Republic. ''We are an ambitious company and we have backed up that ambition with investment,'' he states.

Mr O'Neill says that BT's broadband customers in the North will benefit from BT's UK product set and so will be able to get the sports channel for free. Pointing out that the Republic of Ireland has two major pay-tv players - Sky and UPC - he says that BT is in talks with a number of wholesale operators who might provide services across those two platforms. He adds that he is confident BT's television team will have done a deal with someone to make those channels available to BT customers before the season kicks off in August.

He says BT is seeing a shift in how people are investing in their IT systems. He says that while people used to invest in building their own IT systems in their own data centres, they are now opting to put them in centralised data centres or in the cloud. He says this puts the network right at the heart of the decision making process and enables companies to cut costs.


MORNING BRIEFS - A long-awaited music streaming service from Apple - unofficially dubbed iRadio - may be delayed because of difficulties in sealing an acceptable royalty deal with record companies. The Financial Times says this morning that the record companies are holding out for more than the 12.5 US cents for every 100 tracks streamed that Apple was offering. Sales of digital download's through Apple's iTunes online music service are worth more than $3 billion a year to record companies. The new streaming service, which will compete with already existing players such as Spotify and Deezer, could add substantially to the revenue the industry rakes in.

*** Building materials group Kingspan has the financial firepower to fund a takeover of up to €200m should the opportunity arise. Speaking after the company's annual general meeting in Dublin yesterday, Gene Murtagh, Kingspan's chief executive, said there was no specific target or targets in mind but that it had the scope to fund acquisitions to fuel its international expansion.

*** Crude oil has fallen below $96 a barrel today somewhat perversely after better than expected jobless claim figures in the US yesterday sparked speculation that the US federal reserve would ease back on its aggressive stimulus measures to boost US economic growth. Brent crude for June delivery the most important oil price contract as far as fuel costs here are concerned, dropped 53 cents to $103.94 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.