SCOTTISH DRAGON IN ‘FINAL OFFER’ TO IBRC – The Irish Times reports that Duncan Bannatyne, the Scottish entrepreneur and star of BBC’s Dragons’ Den , has said he will withdraw a £111.5 million (€135.7 million) offer to buy out his borrowings of £115 million owed to the former Anglo Irish Bank if it is not accepted by its liquidator by close of business.

Mr Bannatyne told the newspaper he had increased his offer for his loans from £102 million – or 95 pence in the pound – in January, to 97 pence in the pound or £111.5 million on 6 February, an increase of £9.5 million. 

He said he could not understand why the bank’s special liquidator KPMG was not prepared to accept his new offer.

“The window is closing. I will not make this offer forever and I believe nobody will pay more.

“By close of business I will withdraw my offer if they won’t take it. They are beating me up with money owed to the people of Ireland and not their own money.”

Mr Bannatyne’s bid to buy out the debt of his fitness chain, Bannatyne Fitness, is backed by Royal Bank of Scotland and M&G Investments, an investment manager with £242 billion of assets.

The Scottish businessman said KPMG’s “remit is get the best price. Nobody will pay more than 97p in the pound for loans. It doesn’t seem sensible not to take our money.”


TRADE MISSION GENERATES €25M WORTH OF DEALS - Forty-two Irish companies are concluding a four-day trade mission to Singapore and Malaysia, reports The Irish Examiner.

It has generated €25m worth of contracts, in areas such as ICT, financial services and education.

The trade mission was organised by Enterprise Ireland and the IDA and was led by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton.

It is hoped Ireland will see a 50% increase in trade from the ASEAN region in coming years. 


REASONABLE YEAR FOR PRODUCTION FIRM - ‘The Voice’, ‘Dragon’s Den’ and ‘Celebrity Masterchef’ helped to deliver a ‘reasonably successful’ year for independent programme maker Screentime Shinawil last year, but sales still fell according to The Irish Independent.

Finance director Jim Gilmartin said revenues in 2013 “are slightly less” than the €8m recorded in 2012, which was a record year for the firm with revenues doubling as a result of ‘The Voice’.

Mr Gilmartin said that the firm recorded a “modest profit in the five figures” in 2013.

Newly lodged accounts show accumulated profits decreased to €561,110 from €760,642 in the six months to the end of December 2012.

Mr Gilmartin said the drop is attributable to timing differences as income is only recognised when the productions are broadcast.


JAPANESE FIRM TO ACQUIRE VIBER – The Financial Times reports that Japanese online marketplace Rakuten has taken a huge step to beef up its business.

The company has said it will buy Viber, the online messaging and chat company, for $900m.

While the price is eye-catching, this is not the first time the Japanese e-commerce group, which also happens to own a baseball team, has branched out beyond its core business for acquisitions.

In May 2012, Rakuten led a $100m funding round into Pinterest.

Rakuten also owns an internet bank and an e-books business, having acquired Canada's Kobo for $315m in 2011.