TAXPAYER-SUBSIDISED TOLL ROAD BUSINESS HAS €24m CASH PILE - A toll road business that has received millions of euro in public money to compensate it for poor traffic numbers had a cash pile of €24.5 million at the end of last month, says the Irish Times. According to figures published by credit ratings agency, Moody’s, Direct Route (Limerick) Finance Ltd, which owns the business that operates the tolled Limerick Tunnel and bypass, had a “sizeable cash balance of €11.7 million at December 31st 2013, on top of its mandatory reserves of €12.8 million”, a total of €24.5 million. The State’s National Roads Authority (NRA) paid the tunnel operator €5 million in 2012 and a similar amount last year because traffic on the €810 million road development fell below the minimum guaranteed by the authority, hitting its revenues. The company charges motorists €1.90. The company’s senior lenders, including the European Investment Bank (EIB) and private bond holders whose repayments are insured by US group, MBIA, require it to hold €12.8 million in reserve. Their terms also demand that it put aside extra cash because revenues have fallen below a level set out in its loan agreements.
ONLY IRISH MBA COURSE IN WORLD'S TOP 100 SLIPS 10 PLACES - UCD's flagship MBA programme has slipped 10 places in a prestigious ranking of the world's best graduate business programmes, writes the Irish Independent. The programme, run by UCD's popular Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, came in at 91st in the world and 25th in Europe in the 2014 'Financial Times' Top 100 full-time MBA rankings. It slipped 10 places from its 2013 ranking of 81st in the world. The ranking is based on alumni success, programme quality and the research achievements of faculty endeavours. The top spot this year was taken by Harvard Business School. Seven of the top 10 places were filled by US institutions. Non-US leaders included London Business School, which came third, France's Insead, which took joint sixth with Colombia University in New York, and Spain's IESE Business School, which came seventh. This is the 15th consecutive year that the UCD Smurfit School, which has 100 staff and 1,300 students, has been included in the global top 100. It is the only Irish business school listed in the ranking.
MBA GRADUATE PAY DOULBES IN DOWNTURN - MBA graduates from the world’s elite business schools have seen their pay soar during the past five years in spite of the global economic downturn, according to data collected for the 2014 FT MBA rankings. Students from the world’s top 100 MBA programmes, who started degrees at the start of the downturn in 2008 and 2009 and who graduated in 2010 in the depth of the recession, have seen salaries double during the past five years. This comes as many managers in North America and Europe have, in effect, seen their pay frozen, says the Financial Times. About 94% of alumni that responded to the FT survey said they had achieved the pay rises they had hoped for when they had enrolled on the MBA. The 2010 graduates reporting the highest salaries three years after graduation studied at the two top-ranked schools. Alumni from Stanford Graduate School of Business drew the highest salary, averaged at an annual $182,000 over three years, while Harvard Business School graduates took home $176,000 on the same basis - though their alma mater is the top-ranked MBA. Although substantial, today’s salary increases are a far cry from the glory days of the mid-1990s, when MBA graduates from the top US schools saw salaries triple during the same five-year period. Many of those have gone on to lead some of the world’s top corporations.
FEARS GROW FOR HIGH STREET RECOVERY AS PPI PAYMENTS BEGIN TO DROP OFF - When the payouts by banks for misselling Payment Protection Insurance dry up the high street could be hit by a spending drought, says the London Independent. UK retailers including John Lewis, Currys PC World and Argos all hailed the previous six months as one of the strongest in recent years for sales of electricals and white goods, while retail sales according to the Office for National Statistics are also growing at record rates. However, experts are suggesting the boost in spending is down, in part, to the extra £12.5 billion in the economy paid out by banks for misselling Payment Protection Insurance and this could soon dry up. They are warning that with 70% of payments already made, the speed of growth in retail could be hit as the payouts slow and wages continue to rise below inflation.