MICROSOFT SEEKING NEW RECRUITS IN IRELAND - Microsoft is looking for more software developers at its Applications Media and Publishing Group in Ireland. It is also seeking a further 65 staff across a range of other functions. 

Microsoft Ireland's managing director Cathriona Hallahan says that the new software positions will focus on two main areas - the company's Office division, which is working on the company's new subscription programmes for its online services, and the "sports experience" across different devices, including mobile phones, PC and tablets. Microsoft has a number of Development Centres around the globe, and the Microsoft Ireland boss says the country is successful in attracting the investment for new jobs because as well as a Development Centre, it also a Data Centre, an Operational Centre and a Sales & Marketing division here. 

On the recent launch of the Xbox One console, Ms Hallahan says that Microsoft has a Gaming development team here, as well as a supply chain organisation that supports Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She says that Ireland was also picked as one of the Xbox One's launch markets and the company is very excited about the new console.

IRELAND LAW FIRMS MORE UPBEAT ON FUTURE PROSPECTS - Irish law firms are feeling more positive about the economy but two thirds of them say their fee income is under pressure and a third have increased the amount of money set aside as a buffer against expected bad debts. Smith and Williamson has produced its annual survey of the sector, representing the views of 101 law firms including 16 of the top 20. 

Paul Wyse, managing director of Smith and Williamson Ireland, says that while pressures remain, people are happier this year than they were last year. While bad debts are increasing with 36% of firms reporting a drop in billing rates, companies are also increasing their markets and services and 53% have seen their revenues increase while 45%
have seen profits increase.

Only 11% of respondents to the survey believe that the personal insolvency regime will address issues of people with debt problems. Mr Wyse said the major concern is the power of the banks' veto.  Describing the UK bankruptcy regime as "a well oiled machine",  Mr Wyse says the legal sector here still feel it is a better option for people as they can emerge from the process after 12 months compared to the three year period here.

MORNING BRIEFS - Swiss-Irish company Aryzta saw a 6.5% increase in revenues from its food business to just under €800m over the three months to the end of October. Aryzta, one of the largest producers of bread and other baked goods in Europe, managed that result despite a currencies, most notably the dollar, moving against it.

*** McDonalds Restaurants Ireland falls back on the old corporate mantra of solid performance despite a challenging economic backdrop to describe its 2012 results. Turnover at McDonalds restaurants here was up 4.3% to just over €81m. But that was due in part to the opening of two new outlets and the full-year benefit of 4 McDonalds which opened mid way through 2011. Profit after tax rose from €11.3m €12.7m. McDonalds has invested €20m across its chain here in the past three years, and says it plans to invest a further €20m over the next three years.

*** Retail group Musgraves has denied a report in a Sunday newspaper that it was planning to launch a bank. In a statement Musgraves, which operates Centra, Supervalu and Superquinn, said it was in the early stages of looking at providing services such as insurance products to its customers. But, it said, these plans do not include personal or commercial loans. "We would reiterate that we have no plans to launch a bank," it said.